The end of the Globe

Globe-Democrat 1983

On Nov. 7, 1983, the Newhouse chain announced it was closing the Globe-Democrat, its morning daily in St. Louis.  Publisher G. Duncan Bauman broke the news to the staff.

At the time, I was managing editor and assistant bottle washer of the St. Louis Journalism Review, a small-but-scrappy monthly.

The end of the Globe-Democrat was a big story, and not just for us.  Many newspapers struggled during the first big recession of the Reagan era. But the loss of this reliable conservative voice, founded in 1852, hit many in St. Louis hard.

In response, the SJR produced a special edition.

Martin Duggan, the Globe-Democrat’s editorial page editor, contributed a eulogy. Many others weighed in, too. My reporting looked at the financials of the Globe-Democrat and Post-Dispatch, the Pulitzer-owned afternoon newspaper, as well as the Nixon-era Newspaper Preservation Act, which let them skirt antitrust laws.

Our coverage won the  Lowell Mellett Award for Improving Journalism Through Critical Evaluation, a big deal for a little paper.

The Justice Department eventually intervened in St. Louis, and required Newhouse to entertain bids for the Globe-Democrat with the goal of preserving some semblance of market competition. (Remember, this was before the Internet.)

Unfortunately, the buyer who emerged was Jeff Gluck, a young man with little publishing experience and even less money. The Gluck Globe struggled. Bounced paychecks. Shed staff. Filed for bankruptcy. New buyers bought the bankrupt paper in 1986, but didn’t last. Gluck left St. Louis to work his magic on other publications, eventually ending up in Texas.

Thanks to the joint operating agreement with Pulitzer, Newhouse would continue to make money in St. Louis for many years, even without its own local paper or its journalists.

failing company

Pulitzer eventually bought out Newhouse’s interest, then sold the Post-Dispatch to Lee Enterprises.  Webster University took over the St. Louis Journalism Review, then gave it up. Its successor, published by SIU-Carbondale, has been renamed.