The HOUSTON CHRONICLE is the largest daily newspaper in
United States . As of April 2016 , it is the third-largest
newspaper by Sunday circulation in the United States. With its 1995
buy-out of long-time rival the
Houston Post , the Chronicle became
Houston's primary newspaper.
Houston Chronicle is the largest daily paper owned and operated
Hearst Corporation , a privately held multinational corporate
media conglomerate with $4 billion in revenues. The paper employs
nearly 2,000 people, including approximately 300 journalists , editors
, and photographers . The Chronicle has bureaus in Washington, D.C.
and Austin . It reports that its web site averages 125 million page
views per month.
The publication serves as the "newspaper of record " of the Houston
area. Previously headquartered in the
Houston Chronicle Building at
Texas Avenue, Downtown
Houston , the
Houston Chronicle is now
located at 4747 Southwest Freeway.
* 1 History
* 1.1 1901–1926: Marcellus E. Foster Era
* 1.2 Goodfellows
* 1.3 1926–1956:
Jesse H. Jones era
* 1.4 1956–1965: John T. Jones Era
* 1.5 1965–1987: J. Howard Creekmore Era
* 1.6 1987–present:
Hearst Corporation Era
* 2 Headquarters
* 2.1 4747 Southwest Freeway
* 2.2 801
* 3 People
* 3.1 Awards
* 3.2 Individual awards
* 3.3 Pulitzer Prize
* 3.4 Other notable people
* 4 Sections
Robert Jensen series on the
September 11, 2001 attacks on the
* 5 Other publications
* 6 Criticism
* 6.1 Light rail controversy
* 6.2 Sandoval family interview
* 6.3 Purchase of
Houston Post assets
Tom DeLay poll
* 7 Availability of
Houston Post articles
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 9.1 Sources
* 10 External links
Front page of the first edition of the
Houston Chronicle, 14
From its inception, the practices and policies of the Houston
Chronicle were shaped by strong-willed personalities who were the
publishers. The history of the newspaper can be best understood when
divided into the eras of these individuals.
1901–1926: MARCELLUS E. FOSTER ERA
Houston Chronicle was founded in 1901 by a former reporter for
Houston Post , Marcellus E. Foster . Foster, who had
been covering the
Spindletop oil boom for the Post, invested in
Spindletop and took $30 of the return on that investment — at the
time equivalent to a week's wages — and used it to fund the
The Chronicle's first edition was published on October 14, 1901 and
sold for two cents per copy, at a time when most papers sold for five
cents each. At the end of its first month in operation, the Chronicle
had a circulation of 4,378 — roughly one tenth of the population of
Houston at the time. Within the first year of operation, the paper
purchased and consolidated the Daily Herald.
In 1908, Foster asked Jesse H. Jones, a local businessman and
prominent builder, to construct a new office and plant for the paper,
"and offered half-interest in the newspaper as a down payment, with
twenty years to pay the remainder. Jones agreed, and the resulting
Chronicle Building was one of the finest in the South."
Under Foster, the paper's circulation grew from about 7,000 in 1901
to 75,000 on weekdays and 85,000 on Sundays by 1926. Foster continued
to write columns under the pen name Mefo, and drew much attention in
the 1920s for his opposition to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). He sold the
rest of his interest to
Jesse H. Jones on June 26, 1926 and promptly
Illustration of the
Houston Chronicle building, 1913
In 1911, City Editor George Kepple started Goodfellows. On a
Christmas Eve in 1911, Kepple passed a hat among the Chronicle's
reporters to collect money to buy toys for a shoe-shine boy.
Goodfellows continues today through donations made by the newspaper
and its readers. It has grown into a citywide program that provides
needy children between the ages of two and ten with toys during the
winter holidays . In 2003, Goodfellows distributed almost 250,000 toys
to more than 100,000 needy children in the Greater
1926–1956: JESSE H. JONES ERA
Jesse H. Jones became the sole owner of the paper. He had
approached Foster about selling, and Foster had answered, "What will
you give me?". Jones described the buyout of Foster as follows:
Wanting to be liberal with Foster if I bought him out, since he had
created the paper and originally owned most of the stock, and had made
a success of it, I thought for a while before answering and finally
asked him how much he owed. He replied, 'On real estate and everything
about 200,000 dollars.' I then said to him that I would give him
300,000 dollars in cash, having in mind that this would pay his debts
and give him 100,000 spending money. In addition, I would give him a
note for 500,000 secured by a mortgage on the Chronicle Building, the
note to be payable (interest and principal) at the rate of 35,000 a
year for thirty-five years, which I figured was about his expectancy.
I would also pay him 20,000 dollars a year as editor of the paper and
6,000 dollars a year to continue writing the daily front-page column,
'MEFO,' on the condition that either of us could cancel the editorship
and/or the MEFO-column contracts on six months notice, and that, if I
canceled both the column and the editorship, I would give him an
additional 6,000 dollars a year for life. I considered the offer
substantially more than the Chronicle was worth at the time. No sooner
had I finished stating my proposition than he said, 'I will take it,'
and the transaction was completed accordingly. — p. 121–122 of
Jesse H. Jones: The Man and the Statesman by
Bascom N. Timmons ,
copyright 1956 Henry Holt and Company
Jesse H. Jones transferred ownership of the paper to the
Houston Endowment Inc. Jones retained the title of
publisher until his death in 1956.
According to The Handbook of
Texas Online, the Chronicle generally
represented very conservative political views during the 1950s:
"...the Chronicle generally represented the very conservative
political interests of the
Houston business establishment. As such, it
eschewed controversial political topics, such as integration or the
impacts of rapid economic growth on life in the city. It did not
perform investigative journalism. This resulted in a stodgy newspaper
that failed to capture the interests of newcomers to the city. By
1959, circulation of the rival
Houston Post had pulled ahead of the
Jones, a lifelong Democrat who organized the Democratic National
Convention to be in
Houston in 1928, and who spent long years in
public service first under the Wilson administration, helping to found
the Red Cross during World War I, and later famously under the
Roosevelt administration, described the paper's mission in these
terms: "I regard the publication of a newspaper as a distinct
public trust, and one not to be treated lightly or abused for selfish
purposes or to gratify selfish whims. A great daily newspaper can
remain a power for good only so long as it is uninfluenced by unworthy
motives, and unbought by the desire for gain. A newspaper which can be
neither bought nor bullied is the greatest asset of a city or state.
Naturally, a newspaper makes mistakes in judgment, as it does in type;
but, so long as errors are honestly made, they are not serious when
general results are considered. The success or failure of a
particular issue is of little consequence compared with the
all-important principle of a fearless and honest newspaper. This I
intend the Chronicle shall always be, a newspaper for all the people,
democratic in fact and in principle, standing for the greatest good to
the greatest number, championing and defending what it believes to be
right, and condemning and opposing what it believes to be wrong.
Such have always been the policies of the Chronicle and to such it is
Under Jones' watch, the Chronicle bought
KTRH , one of Houston's
oldest radio stations, in 1937. In 1954, Jones led a syndicate that
signed on Houston's third television station,
1956–1965: JOHN T. JONES ERA
The board of
Houston Endowment named John T. Jones, nephew of Jesse
H. Jones, as editor of the Chronicle.
Houston Endowment president, J.
Howard Creekmore, was named publisher. In 1961, John T. Jones hired
William P. Steven as editor. Steven had previously been editor of the
Tulsa Tribune and the
Minneapolis Star Tribune , and credited with
turning around the declining readership of both papers. One of his
innovations was the creation of a regular help column called
"Watchem," where ordinary citizens could voice their complaints. The
Chicago Tribune later called this column a pioneer and prototype of
the modern newspaper "Action Line."
Stevens' progressive political philosophy soon created conflict with
the very conservative views of the
Houston Endowment board, especially
when he editorially supported the election of Lyndon B. Johnson, the
Democratic candidate for president. But more than political philosophy
was involved: Robert A. Caro revealed in his biography of Johnson that
written assurance of this support from John T. Jones had been the
price demanded by Johnson in January 1964 in return for approval of
the merger of Houston's National Bank of Commerce, in which Jones had
a financial interest, with another
Houston bank, the
In 1964, the Chronicle purchased the assets of its evening newspaper
Houston Press, becoming the only evening newspaper in
the city. By then, the Chronicle had a circulation of 254,000 – the
largest of any paper in Texas. The Atlantic Monthly credited the
growth to the changes instigated by Steven.
In the summer of 1965, Jones decided to buy a local television
station that was already owned by the
Houston Endowment. He resigned
Houston Endowment board to avoid a conflict of interest,
though he remained as publisher of the Chronicle. On September 2,
1965, Jones made a late-night visit to the Steven home, where he broke
the news that the Endowment board had ordered him to dismiss Steven.
Jones had to comply. On September 3, the paper published a story
announcing that Everett Collier was now the new editor.
No mention was made of Steven or the
Houston Endowment board. Houston
Post staff wrote an article about the change, but top management
killed it. Only two weekly papers in Houston: Forward Times (which
targeted the African-American community) and the
Houston Tribune (an
ultra conservative paper). Both papers had rather small circulations
and no influence among the city's business community. The two major
Houston never mentioned Steven for many years
1965–1987: J. HOWARD CREEKMORE ERA
John J. Jones left the Chronicle not long after Steven's ouster. J.
Howard Creekmore, president of the
Houston Endowment, took John Jones'
place at the Chronicle. Everett D. Collier replaced Steven as editor.
Collier remained in this position until his retirement in 1979.
J. Howard Creekmore was born in Abilene,
Texas in 1905. His parents
died while he was young, so he was raised by his stepmother. The
family moved to
Houston in 1920. Howard enrolled in Rice Institute,
where he graduated with degrees in history and English. After
graduation, he went to work for Jesse Jones as a bookkeeper. Jones
took an interest in the young man’s career, and put him through law
school. Creekmore passed the bar exam in 1932 and returned to work for
Jones. He held several positions in the Jones business empire. In
1959, he was named to the board of
Houston Endowment, and was promoted
to president of the board in 1964.
By 1965, Creekmore had persuaded other directors of
to sell several business properties, including the Chronicle. Houston
oilman John Mecom offered $85 million for the newspaper, its building,
a 30 percent interest in
Texas National Bank of Commerce and the
historic Rice Hotel. Early in 1966, Mecom encountered problems raising
the additional cash to complete the transaction. He then began lining
up potential buyers for the newspaper, which included non-Houstonians
such as Sam Newhouse, Otis Chandler and the Scripps-Howard
organization. Creekmore strongly believed that local persons should
own the paper. He insisted that Mecom pay the $84 million debt
immediately in cash. Mecom cancelled his purchase agreement.
In 1968, the Chronicle set a
Texas newspaper circulation record. In
1981, the business pages — which up until then had been combined
with sports — became its own section of the newspaper. Creekmore
remained as publisher until
Houston Endowment sold the paper to the
1987–PRESENT: HEARST CORPORATION ERA
On May 1, 1987, the
Hearst Corporation purchased the Houston
Houston Endowment for $415 Million. Richard J. V.
Johnson, who had joined the paper as a copy editor in 1956, and worked
up to executive vice president in 1972, and president in 1973,
remained as chairman and publisher until he retired April 1, 2002. He
was succeeded by Jack Sweeney.
In 1994, the Chronicle switched to being a morning-only paper. With
the demise of the
Houston Post the following year, the Chronicle
became Houston's sole major daily newspaper.
On October 18, 2008, the paper endorsed Senator
Barack Obama for
President of the
United States in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election
, the first Democrat to be endorsed by the newspaper since 1964, when
it endorsed Texan
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson . It endorsed
Mitt Romney in
2012, but endorsed
Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Locally, the Chronicle endorsed Wendy Davis for governor in 2014 ,
Sylvester Turner for mayor in 2015. Additionally, the Chronicle
Jeb Bush for the 2016 Republican primary, but did
not endorse any other candidate after he dropped out.
4747 SOUTHWEST FREEWAY
Houston Chronicle headquarters, formerly the Houston
On July 21, 2014 the Chronicle announced that its Downtown employees
were moving to the
610 Loop campus, at the intersection of the 610
U.S. Route 59 (Southwest Freeway ).
The facility, previously used as the
Houston Post headquarters, will
have a total of seven buildings with a total of over 440,000 square
feet (41,000 m2) of space. The original building is a 1970s four story
"New Brutalist " building.
As of 2016 the building housed the Chronicle Production Department,
as well as the offices of the Spanish newspaper La Voz de
Houston Chronicle headquarters in Downtown
Houston before its
Houston Chronicle building in Downtown
Houston was the
headquarters of the
Houston Chronicle. The facility included a
loading dock, office space, a press room, and production areas. It had
ten stories above ground and three stories below ground. The printing
presses used by the newspaper spanned three stories. The presses were
two stories below ground and one above. In the Downtown facility, the
presses there were decommissioned in the late 2000s. The newsroom
within the facility had bull-pen style offices with a few private
cubicles and offices on the edges. The facility was connected to the
Houston tunnel system . Turner wrote that "in recent decades"
Texas "offered viewers an architectural visage of unadorned
boxiness" and that "An accretion of five buildings made into one, it
featured a maze of corridors, cul-de-sacs and steps that seemed to
spring on strollers at the most unexpected times."
The facility, 106 years old as of 2016 , was originally four separate
structures that were joined together to make one building. Jesse H.
Jones erected the first Chronicle building, a narrow and long
structure clad in granite, on the corner of Travis Street and Texas
Avenue in 1910. The second building, the Majestic Theater, was built
west of the Chronicle building. The second building built by Jones, it
opened in 1910. In 1918 the third Jones building, Milam Building,
opened west of the theater. An annex was built on the north side of
the main building in 1938, and that annex gained a fifth floor in the
1960s. The fifth building was a production plant built north of the
original four buildings. They were joined together in a major
renovation and modernisation project completed in the late 1960s.
Today the building has been imploded and is reduced to rubble, with
what will become is TBD.
Jack Sweeney is the publisher of the
Houston Chronicle and chairman
of the executive team, John McKeon is the president of the newspaper.
As of August 2015, the executive team includes:
* President: John McKeon
* Executive vice president and editor: Nancy Barnes
* Executive editor, opinions, and editorials: Jeff Cohen
* Chief operating officer: John McKeon
* Executive vice presidents:
* Sales: Mike Labonia
* Digital revenue development ">'s complaint, finding it without
merit on the grounds that the statute did not apply. Rosenthal's
involvement in the probe itself came under fire by the
Houston Press ,
which in editorials questioned whether Rosenthal was too close to TTM:
from 2000 to 2004, Rosenthal accepted some $30,000 in donations from
known TTM supporters. Later that year, TTM revealed that their
television and radio ads were funded by $30,000 in contributions made
the day before the election by two PACs controlled by DeLay.
SANDOVAL FAMILY INTERVIEW
In early 2004, Chronicle reporter Lucas Wall interviewed the family
of Leroy Sandoval, a Marine from
Houston who was killed in Iraq. After
the article appeared, Sandoval's stepfather and sister called into
Houston talk radio station
KSEV and said that a sentence alleging
"President Bush's failure to find weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq
misrepresented their views on the war and President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush ,
that Wall had pressured them for a quotation that criticized Bush, and
that the line alleging Bush's "failure" was included against the
wishes of the family.
A dispute ensued between
KSEV radio show host/owner Dan Patrick and
an assistant managing editor at the Chronicle. The incident prompted
Patrick to join the call for a boycott of the paper. The story was
also picked up by the local
Houston television stations and, a week
later, the O\'Reilly Factor . Eventually, Chronicle publisher Jack
Sweeney contacted the Sandoval family to apologize.
PURCHASE OF HOUSTON POST ASSETS
On 18 April 1995, the
Houston Post ceased operations, leaving the
Chronicle as Houston's only major daily newspaper, and the Hearst
Corporation purchased some of the Post's assets.
announced it in a way that suggested the shutdown and Hearst's
purchase of the Post's assets were simultaneous events. "Post closes;
Hearst buys assets," the Chronicle headline read the day after the
Post was shut.
Internal memos obtained via FOIA from the Justice Department
antitrust attorneys who investigated the closing of the
said the Chronicle's parent organization struck a deal to buy the Post
six months before it closed. The memos, first obtained by the
alternative paper the
Houston Press, say the Chronicle's conglomerate
and the Post "reached an agreement in October, 1994, for the sale of
Houston Post Co.'s assets for approximately $120 million."
TOM DELAY POLL
In January 2006 the Chronicle hired Richard Murray of the University
Houston to conduct an election survey in the district of U.S. Rep.
Tom DeLay , in light of his 2005 indictment by District Attorney
Ronnie Earle for alleged campaign money violations. The Chronicle said
that its poll showed "severely eroded support for U.S. Rep Tom DeLay
in his district, most notably among Republicans who have voted for him
Texas Secretary of State
Jack Rains contacted the Chronicle's
James Howard Gibbons, alleging that the poll appeared to incorrectly
count non-Republican Primary voters in its sample. Rains also asserted
that Murray had a conflict of interest in the poll, as Murray's son
Keir was a political consultant working for
Nick Lampson , DeLay's
Democratic challenger in 2006. In response, Gibbons denied the
methodological flaws in the poll.
AVAILABILITY OF HOUSTON POST ARTICLES
Houston Post articles had been made available in the archives of
Houston Chronicle website, but by 2005 they were removed. The
Houston Chronicle online editor Mike Read said that the Houston
Chronicle decided to remove
Houston Post articles from the website
after the 2001
United States Supreme Court New York Times Co. v.
Tasini decision; the newspaper originally planned to filter articles
not allowed by the decision and to post articles that were not
prohibited by the decision. The
Houston Chronicle decided not to post
or re-post any more
Houston Post articles because of difficulties in
complying with the
New York Times Co. v. Tasini decision with the
resources that were available to the newspaper.
People interested in reading
Houston Post articles may view them on
microfilm . The
Houston Public Library has the newspaper on microfilm
from 1880–1995 and the
Houston Post Index from 1976 to 1994. The
microfilm of 1880–1900 is in the
Texas and Local History Department
Julia Ideson Building , while 1900–1995 is in the Jesse H.
Jones Building, the main building of the Central Library. In addition,
the M.D. Anderson Library at the University of
Houston has the Houston
Post available on microfilm from 1880–1995 and the
Index from 1976 to 1979 and from 1987 to 1994.
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