Erickson Living Tribune

Amanda Smith in The Wall Street Journal

Five Books: Amanda Smith


By Amanda Smith April 20, 2012


The Colonel

By Richard Norton Smith (1997)


It remains a matter of debate whether Robert R. McCormick succeeded in making his Chicago Tribune the “World’s Greatest Newspaper” that it proclaimed itself to be. What’s certain is that by World War II, under nearly three decades of his reactionary, anti-New Deal, isolationist direction, the Tribune was the most widely circulated full-size daily in the nation. McCormick had taken over the family business in the 1910s, before returning from World War I with the rank of colonel (he was widely known thereafter simply as Colonel McCormick). Building on gripping crime stories and war coverage, on the comics and society columns, the giveaways and beauty contests that characterized the paper produced in the late 19th century by his grandfather, Joseph Medill, McCormick launched a technical and mechanical metamorphosis that enabled the paper to dominate the Midwest in the 20th. Richard Norton Smith’s masterly, judicious and often howlingly funny biography captures this most eccentric and reclusive of newspaper titans. “The Colonel” is one of the great histories of American journalism.

READ MORE > Books: Amanda Smith

Library of Congress Event

News from the Library of Congress


Amanda Smith will discuss her Patterson biography, “Newspaper Titan: The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson” (Knopf Doubleday, 2011), on Thursday, March 15, at noon in the Montpelier Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, part of the Books & Beyond author series, is sponsored by the Center for the Book. The Library’s Serial and Government Publications Division, where Smith did much of her research, is co-sponsor of the program, which is free and open to the public.

The Browser > FiveBooks Interviews

Amanda Smith on Newspaper Dynasties


Amanda was interviewed by Eve Gerber for The Browser

From the Hearsts to the Murdochs, powerful families have often controlled the newspapers we read. The author, and Kennedy family member, tells us why they do it and where it leads

Newspaper dynasties are the subject of the five books we’re about to discuss, and of your recent book,
Newspaper TitanThe Infamous Life and MonumentalTimes of Cissy Patterson. What attracted you to the subject of newspaper families?

I got interested in Cissy because of isolationism. Looking at her life, I found her larger family to be fascinating and it occurred to me that there were a lot of parallels between her families and other newspaper families throughout the English-speaking world and beyond.

The Hearsts, the Scripps, the Binghams, the Sulzbergers, the Chandlers and now the Murdochs, we seem almost as interested in reading about newspaper families as we are in reading the papers they publish. Why?

Many became oligarchs within their cities, particularly in the United States with, for instance, the Chandlers in LA and the Medills in Chicago. The prominence of the newspaper and the prominence of the city and the success and growth of both were intertwined.

Newspaper dynasties were very influential and powerful in their domains. They had the ability to become kingmakers and to influence public opinion. In a number of cases, that sense of entitlement was passed down to the children along with the expectation that their offspring would occupy a prominent role in society and in making public opinion, which they often characterised as for the good of the country. I imagine they believed that they used their influence for the good of the country and whether it was or not is always open to debate. And of course, a lot of newspaper families, the successful ones, became incredibly rich. Newspaper dynasties are not as common as they used to be. The Murdochs are one of the few who are left.

About 80 years before Rupert Murdoch entered the UK tabloid market, Alfred Harmsworth was pioneering the populist tactics of tabloid journalism at London’s Daily Mail. Your first choice is a book about the Harmsworths by Sally Taylor. Tell us about The Great Outsiders.


Amanda Smith will be on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews TBA


Amanda Smith at The Players at Harvardwood

Amanda was interviewed by Brooklyn College Professor of Film Foster Hirsch.

Amanda Smith on ABC News

New Book Details Life of First Female Chief Editor. Amanda Smith says Patterson pioneered the 24-hour news cycle in Washington.
Watch it on
Amanda Smith on ABC News

Amanda Smith on the Joan Hamburg Show

Amanda talked with Joan Hamburg about Cissy Patterson and Newspaper Titan. To listen to the interview, which aired on November 17, 2011, use the player below.


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Amanda Smith on Joan Hamburg

Newspaper Titan in The Georgetown Dish

Cissy would have loved it. A big party in her grand house at 15 Dupont Circle, everybody talking about her, well dressed Washingtonians raising glasses of wine. Cissy Patterson is the subject of Amanda Smith’s new book, “Newspaper Titan.”


Georgetown Dish

Amanda Smith in WWD

CISSY’S NIGHT: “This balcony would be good for the pope,” said party hostess Vicki Kennedy looking out onto Dupont Circle from the balcony of the majestic Washington Club.



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