William Randolph Hearst

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateB+, April 1997

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William Randolph Hearst was born into wealth. His father, George, was a man

who struck it rich in the copper and silver mines and land speculation. When he was forty-two,

George married Phoebe Apperson who was a school teacher and also twenty years younger than

her husband. George was absent much of the time and therefore William was raised mostly by

his mother. William Randolph Hearst would eventually operate the world's largest publishing

empire. He had tremendous ambition and seemed to seek power.

Hearst's story begins with his career as a journalist and that, in turn, begins at

Harvard University. Academically, he did not do all that well and was eventually expelled in his

junior year. What Hearst did do successfully at Harvard, however, was turn the Lampoon, a

humor magazine, into a profit-maker. After leaving school, Hearst went to New York and

became a reporter for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World where he studied circulation building

techniques firsthand.

In 1887 he went to San Francisco to take over his father's uninteresting

newspaper, the Examiner.

As the editor and publisher of the Examiner Hearst did several things that would

be typical of his career in newspapers. First, he became a advocate for clean government and

popular rights. He waged campaigns that included ending the domination of the state

government by the Southern Pacific Company, obtaining lower water rates for San Francisco as

well as other civic improvements and reforms. He also obtained the best writing talent by paying

top salaries in order to lure reporters away from other papers. Thirdly, Hearst slanted the news.

He himself once wrote that "The modern editor of the popular journal does not care for the

facts." He wants "novelty" and he "would prefer novelty that is not fact, to a fact that is not...