Before radio. Before television. Before the service economy, there were afternoon newspapers. They were published in cities all over America, often in multiple editions, bringing to readers the very latest news they could get anywhere. To be sure, there were morning newspapers, plenty of them, some the nation's best. The nature of the news cycle allowed them to present a more considered, more definitive package.
The Sun began as a morning newspaper, and has remained so till this day. But in the vigorous competition that existed at the end of this century's first decade, its owners made an important decision. They would launch an afternoon newspaper, call it The Evening Sun and enter the scramble for those thousands of readers buying rival afternoon journals.
Who were those readers? Many were blue-collar workers, up at daybreak, with nary a moment to spare between home and factory gate. Off work in late-afternoon, they liked nothing better than to pull up a rocker on the front porch and devour the very latest late news in their afternoon paper.
It was a shrewd business move. Circulation of The Evening Sun rose smartly. Despite the advent of radio in the Twenties, it kept going up and up, surpassing the morning Sun by the late Thirties. Even with the arrival of television in the Fifties, it continued to flourish.
Then, in 1977, the morning Sun passed The Evening Sun on a trend line that has killed afternoon dailies coast to coast. The economies of this business, the life-styles of most Americans, the very mission of the newspaper in an age awash in instant information made it inevitable that one day The Evening Sun would set as it did last Friday.
This is a loss. But it is also an opportunity we are determined to seize -- and should be held accountable if we do not. With only one newspaper to publish daily, we can concentrate on excellence as never before. We can blend the best of The Evening Sun with the best of the morning Sun to produce a more comprehensive, more readable, more aggressive journal.
Only the newspaper can present the day's news in depth -- news that can be studied and savored at the reader's own pace. Only the newspaper can do the investigative reporting that keeps politicians on their toes and society aware of its needs. Only the newspaper circulates to an entire unsegmented metropoltan area, tying it together. Only the newspaper arrives on door steps seven days a week, one day more than the mail.
Our staff of more than 400 journalists easily dwarfs the combined total of all the radio and television stations in town. Listen carefully, and you will hear your morning newspaper coming back to you in capsulated form on the airwaves.
As we present our new newspaper, we are reminded of what The Sun pledged in Vol. 1, No.1, on May 17, 1837: "Our object will be the common good, without regard to that of sects, factions or parties; and for this object we shall labor without fear or partiality."