The Washington Star, previously known as the Washington Star-News and
the Washington Evening Star, was a daily afternoon newspaper published
Washington, D.C. between 1852 and 1981. For most of that time, it
was the city's newspaper of record, and the longtime home to columnist
Mary McGrory and cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman. On August 7, 1981,
after 128 years, the Washington Star ceased publication and filed for
bankruptcy. In the bankruptcy sale,
The Washington Post
The Washington Post purchased the
land and buildings owned by the Star, including its printing presses.
2 Final years
3 Pulitzer Prizes
4 See also
6 External links
The Washington Star
The Washington Star was founded on December 16, 1852, by Captain
Joseph Borrows Tate. Originally headquartered in Washington's
Newspaper Row" on Pennsylvania Avenue, Tate initially gave the paper
the name The Daily Evening Star, and it would be renamed several times
before becoming Washington Star by the late 1970s. In 1853, Texas
surveyor and newspaper entrepreneur
William Douglas Wallach purchased
the paper. As the sole owner of the paper for the next 14 years,
Wallach built up the paper by capitalizing on reporting of the
American Civil War, among other things. In 1867, the group of
investors Crosby Stuart Noyes,
Samuel H. Kauffmann and George Adams
acquired the paper by each of the investors putting up $33,333.33. The
paper would remain family-owned and operated for the next four
In 1907, subsequent
Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Clifford K.
Berryman joined the Star. Berryman was most famous for his 1902
cartoon of President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, "Drawing the Line in
Mississippi," which spurred the creation of the teddy bear. During
his career, Berryman drew thousands of cartoons commenting on American
Presidents and politics. Presidential figures included former
Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S.
Truman. The cartoons satirized both Democrats and Republicans and
covered topics such as drought, farm relief, and food prices;
representation of the District of Columbia in Congress; labor strikes
and legislation; campaigning and elections; political patronage;
European coronations; the America's Cup; and the Atomic Bomb.
Berryman's career continued at the Star until he collapsed on the
lobby floor one morning in 1949 and died shortly after of a heart
The next major change to the newspaper came in 1938, when the three
owning families diversified their interests. On May 1, the Star
purchased the M. A. Leese Radio Corporation and acquired Washington's
oldest radio station, WMAL, in the process. Renamed the Evening Star
Broadcasting Company, the 1938 acquisition would figure later in the
1981 demise of the newspaper.
The Star's influence and circulation peaked in the 1950s; it
constructed a new printing plant in Southeast Washington capable of
printing millions of copies, but found itself unable to cope with
changing times. Nearly all top editorial and business staff jobs were
held by members of the owning families, including a Kauffmann general
manager who had gained a reputation for anti-Semitism, driving away
advertisers. Suburbanization and television were accelerating the
decline of evening newspapers in favor of morning dailies. The Post,
meanwhile, acquired and merged with its morning rival, the
Times-Herald, in 1954 and steadily drew readers and advertisers away
from the falling Star. By the 1960s, the Post was Washington's leading
In 1972, the Star purchased and absorbed one of DC's few remaining
competing newspapers, The Washington Daily News. For a short period of
time after the merger, both "The Evening Star" and "The Washington
Daily News" mastheads appeared on the front page. The paper soon was
retitled "Washington Star News" and finally, "The Washington Star" by
the late 1970s.
In 1973, the Star was targeted for clandestine purchase by interests
close to the
Apartheid government in its propaganda war,
in what became known as the Muldergate Scandal. The Star, whose
editorial policy had always been conservative, was seen as favorable
to South Africa at the time. In 1974, pro-apartheid Michigan newspaper
John P. McGoff attempted to purchase
The Washington Star
The Washington Star for
$25 million, but his bid failed.
In early 1975, the owning families sold their interests in the paper
to Joe Allbritton, a
Texas multimillionaire who was known as a
corporate turnaround artist. Allbritton, who also owned Riggs Bank,
then the most prestigious bank in the capital, planned to use profits
from WMAL-AM-FM-TV to shore up the newspaper's finances. The Federal
Communications Commission stymied him with rules on media
cross-ownership, however; WMAL-AM-FM was sold off in 1977, and the TV
station was renamed WJLA-TV.
On October 1, 1975, press operators at the Post went on strike,
severely damaging all printing presses before leaving the building.
Allbritton would not assist Katharine Graham, the owner of the Post,
in any way, refusing to print his rival's papers on the Star's
presses, since that likely would have caused the Star to be struck by
the press operators as well. Allbritton also had major disagreements
Jim Bellows over editorial policy; Bellows left the Star
for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Unable to make the Star
profitable, Allbritton explored other options, including a joint
operating agreement with the Post.
On February 2, 1978,
Time Inc. purchased the Star for $20 million.
Their flagship magazine, Time, was the arch-rival to Newsweek, which
was published by
The Washington Post
The Washington Post Company, and the purchase seemed
natural. Management issues continued to plague the publication,
however. Editor-in-Chief Murray Gart, former chief of correspondents
at Time, had no experience managing a newspaper and little experience
even writing for one. An effort to draw readers with
localized special "zonal" metro news sections did little to help
circulation. The Star lacked the resources to produce the sort of
ultra-local coverage zonal editions demanded and ended up running many
of the same regional stories in all of its local sections. An economic
downturn resulted in monthly losses of over $1 million. On August 7,
1981, after 128 years,
The Washington Star
The Washington Star ceased publication. In the
bankruptcy sale, the Post purchased the land and buildings owned by
the Star, including its printing presses.
Many of the people who worked for the Star went to work for the
newly-formed The Washington Times, which began operations in May 1982,
almost a year after the Star went out of business.
Writers who worked at the Star in its last days included Nick Adde
(Army Times), Stephen Aug (ABC News),
Michael Isikoff (Newsweek),
Howard Kurtz (The Washington Post),
Fred Hiatt (The Washington Post),
Sheilah Kast (ABC News),
Jane Mayer (The New Yorker), Chris Hanson
(Columbia Journalism Review),
Jeremiah O'Leary (The Washington Times),
Chuck Conconi (Washingtonian),
Crispin Sartwell (Creators Syndicate),
Maureen Dowd (The New York Times), novelist Randy Sue Coburn, Michael
DeMond Davis, Lance Gay, (Scripps Howard News Service), Jules Witcover
(The Baltimore Sun),
Jack Germond (The Baltimore Sun), Judy Bachrach
Lyle Denniston (The Baltimore Sun), Fred Barnes (Weekly
Gloria Borger (CNN), Kate Sylvester (NPR, NBC, Governing
Mary McGrory (The Washington Post). The paper's staff
also included editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant.
1944: Clifford K. Berryman, for Editorial Cartooning, "Where Is the
1950: James T. Berryman, Editorial Cartooning, for "All Set for a
Super-Secret Session in Washington."
1958: George Beveridge,
Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, for
"Metro, City of Tomorrow."
1959: Mary Lu Werner,
Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, "For her
comprehensive year-long coverage of the (school) integration crisis."
1960: Miriam Ottenberg,
Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, "For a
series of seven articles exposing a used-car racket in Washington,
D.C., that victimized many unwary buyers."
1966: Haynes Johnson, for National Reporting, for his distinguished
coverage of the civil rights conflict centered about Selma, Alabama,
and particularly his reporting of its aftermath.
1974: James R. Polk, National Reporting, for his disclosure of alleged
irregularities in the financing of the campaign to re-elect President
Nixon in 1972.
1975: Mary McGrory, Commentary, for her commentary on public affairs
1979: Edwin M. Yoder Jr., Editorial Writing.
1981: Jonathan Yardley, Criticism, for book reviews.
Harry Post Godwin D.C. City Editor 1881–1897
Bob Rae – former Ontario NDP Leader and interim Liberal of Party of
Canada leader was a paperboy in
Washington, D.C. from the late 1950s
to 1961. His most prominent customers were
Estes Kefauver and Richard
^ a b "Guide to the
Clifford K. Berryman
Clifford K. Berryman cartoon collection,
1899–1949 MS2024". Retrieved 2013-04-21.
Newspaper mogul John McGoff dies". The Times Herald. Port Huron,
Michigan. January 22, 1998. p. 13. Retrieved March 6, 2018 –
via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
Bellows, Jim. The Last Editor: Ben Bradlee and "The Ear", excerpted
from The Last Editor (2002, Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City,
Castro, Janice. "Washington Loses a Newspaper", Time, August 3, 1981.
Graham, Katharine, Personal History, 1997.
Klaidman, Stephen. "A Tale of Two Families," The Washington Post, May
Yoder, Edwin M. "Star Wars: Adventures in Attempting to Save a Failing
Newspaper," The Virginia Quarterly Review.
Clifford K. Berryman
Clifford K. Berryman Digital Collection,
Special Collections Research
Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington
Evening Star on sale at streetcart