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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blue Streak went; then Red Streak went; then the Indianapolis News was Gone

News-Sentinel Cut of 2nd Edition a Reminder of the Fade of the Indianapolis News

Fort Wayne Observed scored an exclusive with the news that the News-Sentinel will be ending its second edition on November 21st. That means the one and only News-Sentinel of each day will be printed at 8:30 AM. (Sundays, of course, excluded).

Fort Wayne Observed noted that the second edition could have the content changed by the time it went to press at 10 AM and that a breaking story could merit a replating of the front page up until 1 PM.

So, no EXTRA ever again. It would be interesting for local historians to note how many major front page changes were done in the last 70 years. The examples would tend to be the
News-Sentinels that people held for safekeeping. You know, the ones chronicling the beginning - and end - of wars; the deaths of Presidents; natural disasters; and man-made ones, too. These are the ones given to the grandchildren. These are the News-Sentinels I often see at personal property auctions.

That the
News-Sentinel is ending its second edition reminds me of the way the Indianapolis News came to its end. The Indianapolis News was the afternoon paper in Indy. The Star was purchased by Eugene C. Pulliam in 1944. He bought the News in 1948.

When Eugene C. Pulliam bought the
Star it was lower in circulation than the News. The News had been, at one time, the largest circulation paper in Indiana. By the time Mr. Pulliam purchased the News, the Star had a larger circulation.

Evening newspaper readership was strong when the rhythms of life were different; when heavy manufacturing was strong.

Mr. Pulliam continued a separate identity for each newspaper. Each had its own news staff and its own editorial writers.

The
News was always a little scrappier than its morning sister. It had to be. It was not only operating during the daytime as news was happening. It also competed, until 1966, with the afternoon paper, the Indianapolis Times.

The paper published a home edition, a red streak and a blue streak. Sometimes there was even a blue streak Extra. When I served in the legislature, the first edition of the Indianapolis
News would come out with the barest outline of a breaking story. Often, by the time of the later edition, the details were so fleshed out that you were compelled to buy another copy of that day's News. If one can refer to a single reader as a market, then, on many days, the Indianapolis News had more than 100% market penetration of me.

In 1995, the
News combined its news staff with the Star while the editorial staff remained distinct. In 1999, the News was gone.

In its final years, they kept eliminating the later editions until there was only one. And when they were down to only one edition it was really just a late edition of the
Star.

The end hadn't come with crash. It was a whittling away until there wasn't anything left to whittle.


Thanks to Russ Pulliam for some of the historical detail drawn from fine biography he wrote of his grandfather.

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