Thewas established December 7, 1869, by 23-year-old reporter . At two cents, the was a penny cheaper than its competition. Its price, plus clean makeup and condensed form, made it popular. Three months after its founding, the had a circulation of 2,500 and had absorbed the weekly . Holliday stuck to his commitment to publish a politically independent newspaper, although the paper traditionally has been considered conservative in its editorial position.
Thecirculation had grown to 25,000 when the ailing Holliday sold it in May 1892, to William H. Smith, his son , and his son-in-law Charles N. Williams. In 1909, the editors were indicted on criminal libel charges, later dismissed, for reprinting an article critical of the Theodore Roosevelt administration’s actions that resulted in the United States taking possession of the Panama Canal. , vice president under Roosevelt and former U.S. senator from Indiana, had owned part of the since 1892, although it was never revealed until his death in 1918.
When Delavan Smith died in 1922, the Fairbanks children bought complete ownership of the 20th century and was the state’s most widely read paper., with sons Warren, Frederick, and Richard serving terms as publisher through 1944. Known as the “Great Hoosier Daily,” the enjoyed its heyday during the first half of the
In May 1932, thewas awarded a for a series of stories and editorials on wasteful spending by city and state government. The continued to dominate its closest competitor, the morning , into the 1940s. But in 1944 bought the and started intense competition, calling off an unwritten truce that the would not challenge the circulation if the would not start a Sunday paper.
Theedged the in circulation in 1945, 151, 640 to 133,600, but by the end of World War II, squabbling among the Fairbanks heirs was hurting the . By 1947 the had overtaken the News in circulation. In August 1948, Pulliam bought the paper for $4 million and formed Indianapolis Newspapers, Inc. (INI).
In 1950, thebegan one of the early newspaper consumer columns, “Herman Hoglebogle,” written by the paper’s editor Jim Abrams with a cartoon character by that name created by artist Tom Johnson. Another continuing tradition was the “Blue Streak,” the latest daily edition, sold only as single copies. It debuted in 1956 with a jagged blue line running down the edge. Among the paper’s most famous employees were , creator of the “Abe Martin” character that ran in 300 newspapers, and , who worked there for 77 years.
When the city’s other afternoon paper, the, folded in 1965, the picked up some of its following. By 1970, the circulation had rebounded to 183,026, and the paper employed 103 reporters and editors. However, the News could not escape the trend of declining afternoon circulation and lost 40,000 subscribers between 1970 and the 1980s, when circulation hit 143,141.
Themarked its December anniversary yearly with “The News Proposes,” which outlined long-range goals the paper and community could work toward together. Some realized goals were the and restoration of .
As newspapers moved into the technological age, INI and theconverted to word processors, offset printing, and an electronic library later than most big-city newspapers, waiting for the technology to prove itself. During the 1980s, the initiated successful investigations of state government, including two that led to the resignation of the heads of the Department of Education and the Department of Correction. In 1988, the broke the story of how U.S. vice-presidential nominee Dan Quayle avoided military service in the Vietnam War, even though Quayle was the nephew of publisher and held stock in the paper’s parent company.
Theshared advertising, production, and an expanded building at the corner of New York and Pennsylvania streets with the , but editorial and reporting staffs were separate.
Thecontinued to publish daily except Sundays. In 1990, the paper had a subscription of 102,000, but that number continued to fall. By 1999, its circulation had dropped to 33,000, in comparison to 245,000 for the . On October 1, 1999, the ceased publication, with a print run of 100,000 copies as a final souvenir edition.