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34. William Randolf Hearst

34. William Randolf Hearst

George Hearst, a self-made millionaire, won The San Francisco Examiner as a gambling debt. In 1887, he gave that paper to William Hearst to run while he was still in Harvard.

When William Hearst moved to New York, he acquired The New York Journal and begin the circulation war with Pulitzer that would become the dawn of the age of Yellow Journalism. At his peak, he acquired 30 papers in major American cities as well as a number of newspapers and became the largest newspaper and magazine business owner in the world.

He spent some time in the legislature, having been elected as a Democratic Representative twice, but he failed in a 1906 bid for governorship of New York and failed at multiple runs for President.

For much of Hearst’s life, he fought hard to use his papers as a tool for civic improvement, while he’s criticized for his role in the Hearst / Pulitzer Yellow Journalism debacle, he is celebrated as one of the founders of the modern newspaper industry.

As a fun fact, the movie Citizen Kane is actually based on William Hearst’s life, well, sort of (watch the video).

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