By Raymond Fernandez
William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863 in San Francisco California to parents George and Phoebe Hearst.
His father was an accomplished businessman and very wealthy. George made his fortune in the mining industry. He was very creative and worked tirelessly to become a success in respect to the mining industry. By doing so, it allowed young William to enjoy the leisure and spoils of a life of opportunities and fancies that only few in that time had.
At the age of ten William and Phoebe travelled to Europe. William was inspired by the architecture and grandeur and magnificent dimension of the castles. The history, the art and the enchantment of these citadels of royalty inspired him to rise as the media mogul he became.
William enrolled in Harvard in 1885 but was soon expelled for his outrageous antics, which included sponsoring wild beer parties. During his three college years, Hearst had an opportunity to display some of the publishing talent that later built the greatest newspaper empire ever known in America. His field of activity was modest–the Harvard Lampoon. He took over as business manager of the funny magazine when it was laboring under heavy arrears of debt, and in two years transformed it into a paying proposition. He was also elected to the “Hasty Pudding” theatrical group. His talent was revealed there and his interest in drama.
His father decided to try and help mature his son by giving him control of the San Francisco Examiner newspaper, which George Hearst had recently acquired as repayment for a gambling debt. William had found his calling. He used his wealth to attract some of the best writers of the day to his new projects, such as Mark Twain and Jack London. In just a few years the Examiner dominated the San Francisco market.
After moving to New York City, Hearst acquired the New York Journal and fought a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Hearst sold papers by printing giant headlines over lurid stories featuring crime, corruption, sex, and innuendos. Hearst acquired more newspapers and created a chain that numbered nearly 30 papers in major American cities at its peak. He later expanded to magazines, creating the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world.
During his time, one in four Americans received their news from Hearst News Publications. A little known fact, during this time, his editorials became more isolationist and nationalistic. He turned against President Roosevelt, while most of his readership supported FDR. Hearst’s reputation was tarnished in 1934, when he visited Berlin and interviewed Adolph Hitler, helping to legitimize the Nazi regime in Germany.