Back to Conference Participants Abstract: Brooklyn's Newspapers: The Shaping of a Borough's Self- Image  




Going back before the Civil War, and up to the 1950s, Brooklyn boasted of having some of the finest newspapers published in this country, many of which also had great national influence. The major newspapers that will be discussed in this paper will be the Brooklyn Eagle, the Brooklyn Evening Star, the Brooklyn Times, the Brooklyn Citizen, and the Brooklyn Standard Union.
This paper will outline the role of how Brooklyn's newspapers affected Brooklynites' pride in their community, and how the papers helped to promote the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. As the paper will give an historical overview of the newspapers of Brooklyn, it will relate such stories as how Walt Whitman, America's most controversial poet, became Editor of the Eagle. The political agendas of Brooklyn newspapers will be analyzed, such as how the Standard Union was ensnarled in New York City politics with Tammy Hall, and how the Eagle was largely responsible for the resignation of Mayor William O¹Dwyer.
This paper will also discuss how Brooklyn's newspapers became a showcase of liberalism and conservatism, a working paradigm of modern American democracy. It will relate such fights as the consolidation with Manhattan, as "the great mistake" a many Brooklyn newspapers called it, in their attempt to preserve their own distinct city.
More contemporary issues relative to Brooklyn's newspapers will be discussed, such as the beautification program of planting Brooklyn's official flower, the forsythia, all over the borough; and the virtual editorial deification of the 1953 Dodgers -Yankees World Series of 1953.
Brooklyn's newspapers prospered for years, but began to fail when they refused to recognize, or acknowledge, the changing demographics of the borough. Nevertheless, the impact of Brooklyn's newspapers in shaping the identity of the growth and personality of the borough, for well over one hundred years, was profound.
While discussing the history of Brooklyn's newspapers, the paper will also analyze and explain the influence of those newspapers on Brooklyn¹s separateness, and how they did, and did not, compete with Manhattan's dailies. How was Brooklyn's ambivalence toward Manhattan reflected in its newspapers? How did Brooklyn's newspapers remain apart from the mainstream journalism of its sister city across the East River? This paper will attempt to answer some of these questions, while showing examples of stories, headlines, political cartoons and photographs culled from archival material.