PM (newspaper)

PM (newspaper)
In 1945, Coulton Waugh employed a novel art approach on his PM strip Hank. According to Waugh, Hank was "a deliberate attempt to work in the field of social usefulness."[1]

PM was a leftist New York City daily newspaper published by Ralph Ingersoll from June 1940 to June 1948 and bankrolled by the eccentric Chicago millionaire Marshall Field III.

The paper employed some radical journalists, among them some known members of the Communist Party.[citation needed] This led to widespread accusations that the paper was Communist-dominated, but a thesis by Anya Schiffrin concluded that the paper frequently opposed the policies of the Communist Party and got into editorial fights with the CP's paper, the Daily Worker.

The name stood for Picture Magazine; it borrowed many elements from weekly newsmagazines, such as many large photos and, at first, being bound with staples. It accepted no advertising in an attempt to be free of pressure from business interests. These departures from the norms of newspapering created excitement in the industry; 11,000 people applied for the 150 jobs available when the paper began.


Circulation averaged at 165,000, but the paper never managed to sell the 225,000 copies a day it would need to break even. According to a June 21, 1966 memo from Ingersoll to Mrs. Leighner [found in the Boston University Gottlieb Archives]:

Before the end of the War (World War II) it was actually operating in the black... In my opinion at the time and these 20 years later--PM's death is most soundly attributable to a sustained and well-organized plot originating amongst Field's friends and associates in the business world who alienated by Field's loyalty to PM and to me. The hostility was there from the beginning; the plot came together under the auspices of a man named Harry Cushing who was a retainer of Field's. The principal and successful offensive of this group was that it had as its objective Field's distraction from PM by persuading him to start the Sun in Chicago. Once they committed Field to the Sun venture, the end was inevitable. I can diagram it for you but merely put it on record here.

The paper was sold in 1948 and published its final issue on June 22. The next day it was replaced by the New York Star, which folded January 28, 1949.

Comics and contributors

Theodor Geisel, better known by his pen name of Dr. Seuss, was a frequent contributor to PM's editorial page.[2][3] Crockett Johnson's comic strip Barnaby debuted in the paper in 1942.

Between his stints on Dickie Dare, Coulton Waugh created his short-lived but notable strip, Hank, which began April 30, 1945 in PM. The story of a disabled GI returning to civilian life, Hank had a unique look due to Waugh's decorative art style, combined with dialogue lettered in upper and lower case rather than the accepted convention of all upper case lettering in balloons and captions. Some dialogue was displayed with white lettering reversed into black balloons. The uniqueness of Hank continued below its surface, as Waugh sought to raise questions about the reasons for war, and how it might be prevented by the next generation. Waugh discontinued it at the very end of 1945 due to eyestrain.[1]

Cartoonist Jack Sparling created the short lived comic strip Claire Voyant, which ran from 1943 to 1948 in PM, and which was subsequently syndicated by the Chicago Sun-Times. Walt Kelly's comic strip Pogo first appeared in PM's successor, the Star, in 1948.

Journalist I. F. Stone was the paper's Washington correspondent. His award-winning series on European Jewish refugees attempting to run the British blockade to reach the Jewish homeland in Mandatory Palestine became the book, Underground to Palestine. Staffers included theater critic Louis Kronenberger and film critic Cecelia Ager. Weegee, Margaret Bourke-White and Arthur Leipzig were the photographers. The sports writers were Tom Meany, Tom O’Reilly and George F. T. Ryall (who covered horse racing). Elizabeth Hawes wrote about fashions, and her sister Charlotte Adams covered food.[4][2]

Other distinguished writers who contributed articles included Erskine Caldwell, [Myril Axlerod], McGeorge Bundy, Saul K. Padover, James Wechsler (eventually the paper's editorialist); Penn Kimball, later dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism; Heywood Hale Broun; James Thurber; Dorothy Parker; Ernest Hemingway; Eugene Lyons; Ben Stolberg; Malcolm Cowley;[4] future Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill[2] and Ben Hecht.[4]

The first year of the paper was a general success, though the paper was already in some financial trouble: its circulation of 100,000–200,000 was insufficient. Marshall Field III had become the paper's funder; quite unusually, he was a "silent partner" in this continually money-losing undertaking.[4]


  1. ^ a b Waugh, Coulton. The Comics. New York: Luna Press, 1974 (original copyright 1947).
  2. ^ a b c Nel, Philip. "About the Newspaper PM". The Crockett Johnson Homepage. Retrieved June 21, 2005.
  3. ^ (October 17, 1999). "Serious Seuss: Children's author as political cartoonist". 
  4. ^ a b c d Roger Starr, PM: New York's Highbrow Tabloid, City Journal, Summer 1993. Accessed online 5 March 2007.

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