The Houston Chronicle is the biggest daily newspaper in Houston, Texas. In 2016, the Houston Chronicle was the third-largest newspaper by Sunday circulation in the country. A buyout of their long-time rival, the Houston Post, in 1995 made the Chronicle Houston’s newspaper of record. The Houston Chronicle is the biggest daily newspaper in Houston. It is owned by the Hearst Corporation, a privately-held multinational media conglomerate. Today, the Houston Chronicle is headquartered at the Houston Chronicle Building, which is located at 4747 Southwest Freeway. In this article, we will know more about the history of the Houston Chronicle and how it became Houston’s newspaper of record.
History of the Houston Chronicle
in 1901, a former reporter for the Houston Post, Marcellus E. Foster, founded the Houston Chronicle. Foster, who used to be covering the Spindletop oil boom for the Houston Post, decided to invest in Spindletop and managed to take $30 of the return on that investment. Back in those days, $30 was equals to a week’s wages. Foster used his money to fund the Chronicle.
The Houston Chronicle’s first edition was released on October 14, 1901, and Foster sold it for two cents per copy. Back then, newspapers often sold for five cents each. At the end of their first month in the business, the Chronicle had a circulation of 4,378 or one-tenth of Houston’s population. Within the Chronicle’s first year of operation, they managed to purchase and consolidated the Daily Herald.
The Houston Chronicle’s circulation grew from 7,000 in 1901 to 75,000 on weekdays and 85,000 on Sundays in 1926 under Foster’s supervision. He also wrote columns under the pen name Mefo, and he caught much attention during the 1920s because of his opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. On June 24, 1926, Foster decided to sell the rest of his interest to Jesse H. Jones and retired after.
Jesse H. Jones became the only owner of the Houston Chronicle in 1926. But in 1937, Jones transferred the ownership to Houston Endowment Inc. However, Jones still retained as the paper’s publisher until he died in 1956. In 1937, the Chronicle bought KTRH, which is Houston’s oldest radio station.
After the death of Jesse H. Jones in 1954, the board of Houston Endowment named John T. Jones, the nephew of Jesse H. Jones, as the editor of the Houston Chronicle and J. Howard Creekmore, the president of Houston Endowment, was named as the newspaper’s publisher. In 1961, John T. Jones decided to hire William P. Steven as an editor. He created a regular help column entitled “Watchem,” where Houston people can voice their complaints.
Houston Chronicle decided to purchase the assets of their evening newspaper competitor, the Houston Press, in 1964, which is why they became the only evening newspaper in the city. By then, the Houston Chronicle’s circulation grew to about 254,000, by far the largest of any paper in Texas.
In the summer of 1965, John T. Jones decided to buy a local television station already owned by the Houston Endowment. To avoid conflict of interest, Jones resigned from the Houston Endowment. However, he still remained as the publisher of the Houston Chronicle. In September 1965, Jones talked to Steven and broke the news that the Endowment board ordered him to dismiss Steven. That same month, the Chronicle published a story where they announced that Everett Collier was their new editor.
John J. Jones decided to leave the Chronicle not long after Steven was ousted. That is why he was replaced by J. Howard Creekmore, who is also the Houston Endowment president. Everett D. Collier replaced Steven as editor of the newspaper, and he remained his position until he retired in 1979.
In 1965, Creekmore persuaded other directors of the Houston Endowment to sell several business properties, including the Chronicle. John Mecom offered a whopping $85 million for the newspaper as well as its building. However, in early 1966, Mecom struggled to raise the additional cash to finish the transaction. That is why he began lining up potential buyers for the newspaper, and it includes non-Houstonians. But Creekmore said that only local persons should own the paper. That is why he persuaded Mecom to immediately pay the $84 million debt in cash that led to Mecom canceling the purchase agreement.
In 1968, Houston Chronicle managed to set a Texas newspaper circulation record. In 1981, Creekmore remained as the newspaper’s publisher until the Houston Endowment sold the Chronicle to the Hearst Corporation in 1987 for $415 million. Richard J. V Johnson became the paper’s publisher and chairman until he retired in April 2002.
The Chronicle decided to switch as a morning-only newspaper in 1994. With the fall of the Houston Post that same year, the Chronicle became Houston’s only major daily newspaper.