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St. Louis Post-Dispatch History

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Initially called The St. Louis Post and Dispatch. The and was dropped after two weeks. In 1881, the paper acquired the subscription list of  The Star. Acquired assets of The Star-Times in 1951. Entered into a Joint Operating Agreement with its morning rival, the Globe-Democrat in 1971. Switched from an afternoon to a morning paper in 1984. Sold to Lee Enterprises in 2005.

Because their standards were high and rigidly maintained, a position at one of the Pulitzer papers...was recognized as one of the toughest jobs in journalism. Yet such positions were the most sought after by aspiring newspapermen. To work in the Pulitzer organization was to be tempered in fire. If a man had real ability...this was the kind of experience that brought it out. Pulitzer's ideals commanded competence. Under his system, men and their performance were carefully measured and continually subjected to tests. If one fell short of what was expected, he was fired or shifted. The discipline seemed effective. Those who met the tests were paid well and bonuses for unusual or brilliant work were frequent.

(From Bovard of the Post-Dispatch by James W. Markham, 1954).

"Managing editor John A. Cockerill, in 1882, shocked the community...While [Joseph] Pulitzer was out of town, the Post-Dispatch printed a libel against Colonel Alonzo Slayback in the heat of a political campaign. The Colonel, a former Confederate officer and a lawyer popular in St. Louis society, was the originator of the Veiled Prophet's parade and ball, which opened the autumn fairs and the city's social season. The charge the Post-Dispatch reiterated was one a gentleman of his mettle could hardly ignore. 'Far from being a brave man, the Colonel, notwithstanding his military title, is a coward.' When Slayback walked into the Post-Dispatch office to demand a retraction, Cockerill shot him dead.
"Every segment of the public took sides in the debate as to whether the killing was murder or self-defense. Hotheads, led on by editorials in the Republican, wanted to burn down the new Post-Dispatch building, While a grand jury failed to hand down an indictment, opponents of the Pulitzer paperinsisted its editor had 'planted' a pistol on the Colonel's body after shooting him merely to escape a well-deserved thrashing. Editors throughout the West attacked Pulitzer for his 'personal journalism.' Soon afterwards he was impelled to leave the town for good, harboring (as his official biographer says) a feeling he never lost: that he was 'unwelcome' there."

(From The Man in the Mirror by Max Putzel, 1963).

[1894] was a year of unrest for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The upstart Star-Sayings was cutting into the Post’s circulation. A united front with the Republic and the Globe-Democrat against the newcomer collapsed. The latter two joined the Star and isolated the Post with a three-newspapers-for-a-nickel sale. Joseph Pulitzer, a conservative and ardent defender of the established order in 1894, finally settled a fight over the editorial direction of the New York World by “selling” the Post-Dispatch to the World’s populist editor-in-chief and getting him out of New York. Pulitzer immediately regretted the “sale” and began to regain control of the Post, but the sale may have saved the paper.
The Post was the first newspaper that Pulitzer owned. It was there that he developed the style that would later become known as “yellow journalism.” In one of his first editions, he ran an interview with a girl who thought she saw the devil. Responding to criticism that he was irresponsible for reporting something that couldn’t possibly be true, Pulitzer responded that the truth of the matter was not important. What was important was that “the girl believes it.” His critics missed what for Pulitzer was the main point. The article and the criticism of it created a sensation, and circulation soared…
Pulitzer was different. While insisting that a newspaper’s job is “to amuse and entertain its readers as well as educate and instruct them,” he shifted the standard from fact to belief. The reporter’s job was to find out what people believed happened, not what did happen. He was not party to hoaxes; he merely reported what people said they believed.

(Excerpted from an article by Peter Downs originally published in the St. Louis Journalism Review 9/1994).

Post-Dispatch’s First Society Editor By W.A. Kelsoe

The Post-Dispatch’s first society editor was Mrs. Hannah Davies Pittman, who died in her eightieth year, March 22, 1919. The sketch of her life in Mrs. Anne Andre-Johnson’s “Notable Women of St. Louis” reports that Mrs. Pittman “was for sixteen years a member of the staff of the Post-Dispatch,” which means that she became connected with the paper in some capacity soon after the merging of the Post with the Dispatch in December, 1878. Mrs. Pittman, who was a graduate of the Presbyterian college at Harrodsburg, Ky., wrote several plays for children and a successful comic opera while at the Post-Dispatch and later achieved national celebrity as an author, her most notable work being “Americans of Gentle Birth and Their Ancestors.”

(Originally published in the St. Louis Reference Record in 1927).

The 1904 exposition meant growth to the paper's business. Even before the World's Fair opened, the need for new quarters to handle expanding production had become imperative. The building at 513 Olive Street, which had served since 1888 as the paper's third home, was completely outgrown (Previous locations were 111 North Broadway, 1878-1882, and 513-515 Market Street, 1882-1888)... The five-story Post-Dispatch building1892 Post-Dispatch Building at 513 Olive had been constructed on the site of the Provident Savings Bank  and remodeled to meet the needs of newspaper publishing. It looked upon the street with large arched windows outlined in roughly hewn granite and shaded by striped awnings. The Post-Dispatch had occupied the building April 10, 1888, but only four years later increased circulation necessitated an additional $100,000 worth of presses. To house this new equipment, basements of neighboring buildings were leased and tunnels constructed from the main press room...
Accordingly, one Sunday morning in 1902 the task of moving [from 513 Olive] to 210-12 North Broadway commenced.1906 Post-Dispatch Building The job was finished with equipment placed in time to issue the regular midday edition Monday. The staff worked hard; [O.K.]Bovard, [Harry] Dunlap, and Hugh McSkimming made twenty-four hour records. Just before the fair opened, the average weekly circulation stood at 124,000. During the fair it rose to 149,000; and after it closed, the figure leveled at around 140,000. The Sunday paper showed even greater growth - from 186,000 in December, 1903, to 246,000; it did not afterwards drop under 200,000.

(From Bovard of the Post-Dispatch by James W. Markham, 1954).

The Post-Dispatch publishes a Sunday issue which is really a magazine and compendium of current literature in addition to a first-class newspaper. It is edited by Mr. Florence White, and both the daily and Sunday ikssues are bright exponents of the new St. Louis idea.

(From Old and New St. Louis by James Cox, 1894).