AS THE END draws closer for The Evening Sun, it is worth noting how times have changed since the heyday of evening newspapers in Baltimore and other metropolitan areas. A colleague recently came across a front page from The Sun that had been stamped onto an ashtray that illustrates the point.
The date: Monday, Dec. 28, 1959.
The volume: 28 pages (versus 42 pages on a recent Monday edition of The Sun).
Circulation: Sunday Sun, 321,380 (versus 494,000 today); morning, 196,675 (versus 264,583 today), and evening, 220,174 (versus 86,360 today).
Yes, there was a time when many more Baltimoreans read the evening newspaper published in this building than the morning paper. Each publication was quite different -- in content, in tone and in style.
Ah, for the good old days, when Baltimore had an NFL team (at the top) and, with the Hearst Corp.'s p.m. operation down the street, two thriving evening papers.
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SPEAKING of the Hearst Corp., The Evening Sun's H. L. Mencken once offered a rousing defense of William Randolph Hearst's influence on American newspapers:
"Hearst deserves more and better of his country than he will ever get. It is the fashion to speak of him contemptuously, with dark references to matters that are nobody's business. I think there is a great deal of envy in all this: not many Americans, even among millionaires, have ever been accused so beautifully.
The dislike of the man that prevails in newspaper circles is only a smarting of old wounds. He shook journalism to its foundations, and exposed the incompetence of more than one highly smug newspaper proprietor . . He made a burlesque of the whole God-save-us scheme of things. He proved that what the populace really wanted was simply a roaring show -- and he brought to the business of giving it that show a resourcefulness that was unparalleled and a daring that was stupendous."