Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit Free Press

The first issue of the Detroit Free Press newspaper was published by Sheldon McKnight on May 5, 1831 under the name The Democratic Free Press and Michigan Intelligencer. The name was changed to Detroit Daily Free Press in 1835 when it became the area’s first daily paper.

Wilbur F. Storey bought the paper in 1853 and created a series of innovative firsts for the Free Press, such as the first regular Sunday edition in the nation. He emphasized not only the local news but expanded coverage of national news via the telegraph. During the Civil War, Storey’s correspondents sent reports from the battlefields, making the Free Press a nationally-known source for the latest news. In 1881, the Free Press became the first American newspaper to be published in Europe when William E. Quinby introduced its London edition.

John Knight bought the Free Press in 1940 bringing the paper under group ownership for the first time, creating some concerns over its effect on the independence of the paper. From 1960–1980, the competition for market dominance continued among a number of local papers, ultimately leaving two papers in the Detroit market, the Detroit Free Press and its main rival, The Detroit News

1987 saw the adoption of a 100-year Joint Operating Agreement between the Free Press and the News, called the Detroit Newspaper Agency. It was owned equally by Knight Ridder and Gannett. The two papers would share business operations, split profits but keep their editorial staffs separate. Knight Ridder sold the Free Press to the Gannett Company on August 3, 2005. The two papers published a combined Saturday and Sunday paper until May 7, 2006, when the Detroit Free Press resumed publishing its own Sunday edition. Due to the terms of the Joint Operating Agreement, the News is allowed to include its editorial page within the Sunday edition of the Free Press. The Detroit Media Partnership, renamed “michigan.com” in 2014 to reflect its digital presence, moved both papers to the Federal Reserve Building at 160 West Fort Street in Detroit in 2014.

The Free Press won its first Pulitzer Prize in 1932, and has won a total of 10, more than all the other Michigan newspapers combined.

 


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