Washington DC: The Washington Star Company, 1981. Presumed First Edition, First printing thus. Newspaper. Some page browning noted. The Washington Star, previously known as the Washington Star-News and the Washington Evening Star, was a daily afternoon newspaper published in Washington, D.C. between 1852 and 1981. The Sunday edition was known as the Sunday Star. The paper was renamed several times before becoming Washington Star by the late 1970s. 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. 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 Company. Time Inc.'s president, James R. Shepley, convinced Time's board of directors that owning a daily newspaper in the national capital would bring a unique sense of prestige and political access. The paper's labor unions agreed to work concessions that Shepley demanded. An effort to draw readers with localized special "zonal" metro news sections, however, 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. Overall, the Star lost some $85 million following the acquisition before Time's board decided to give up. On August 7, 1981, after 128 years, The Washington Star ceased publication. From information found on-line: After word came that the Washington Star would cease publication on August 7, the first reaction of the talented young reporters on the paper was what you might expect: shock, dismay, grief. But within a few days, according to several of them, these same young reporters began to shudder each time they heard a rumor that someone, somehow, might step in and save the paper at the last moment. Job offers from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other prestigious publications had begun to pour in, and they were contingent on the folding of the Star. It is compelling testimony to the paper’s evisceration under the management of Time Inc. that its disappearance would so clearly provide a career boost to many of the people who worked for it. The Washington Star was a good newspaper, possibly the best afternoon paper in the country, with some of the finest journalists in the profession: Mary McGrory, John Fialka, Lyle Denniston, Jack Germond, Jules Witcover. But it has been pointed out just as consistently that there was no reason for people who read the Washington Post in the morning to read the Washington Star in the afternoon. The Star, three years and $85 million after being bought by Time Inc., had become lifeless, predictable, and superfluous. For decades the leitmotif of the newspaper business has been the dirge. Evening papers in particular have been vulnerable for a variety of reasons: a switch to television for evening news; later starting work days, which leave time to read a morning paper; the difficulty of distribution through evening rush hour. Added to this, the Star was forced to compete with one of the strongest and best newspapers in the country. Perhaps nothing could have saved Washington from becoming a one-newspaper town. But in spite of its $85 million. Time Inc. never brought to it the commitment and daring of the company which early in its existence created Time, Life, and Fortune. It seems that since the Star couldn’t be plugged into a formula for success that it was just a matter of time before Time Inc. cut its losses. There is no guarantee that if Time Inc. had done it right—if it had fulfilled people’s expectations and used its resources and the Star’s staff to create something glorious—it would have, as newspapers must, made money. But Time Inc. didn’t do it right. And this city’s mourning of another lost voice is tinged with regret for what that voice might have been. Condition: Good.
Keywords: Washington, District of Columbia, Newspaper, Journalism, Reporters, Economic Conditions, Reading Habits