Bennett, James Gordon

Bennett, James Gordon

, 1795–1872, American newspaper publisher
Bennett, James Gordon, 1795–1872, American newspaper proprietor, b. Keith, Scotland. He came to America in 1819 and won a reputation as Washington correspondent of the New York Enquirer and later (1829–32) as assistant editor of the combined Courier and Enquirer. On May 6, 1835, he launched his New York Herald, a new penny paper of four four-column pages. His capital totaled $500 and his office was a Wall St. cellar, yet in less than a year the paper sold almost 15,000 copies daily. Bennett's innovations made the Herald a landmark in the history of American journalism: in his brief editorials he criticized all political parties; he included new fields of news, notably that of Wall St. finance; he first established (1838) European correspondents for his paper; he first used the telegraph extensively in newspaper work; and he first used illustrations for news articles. Although the Herald initially gained an audience by playing up sensational and cheap news, it later earned a reputation as a full and accurate paper, particularly in the period of the Civil War, when Bennett employed 63 war correspondents and spent $525,000 on war reporting.

Bibliography

See O. Carlson, The Man Who Made News: James Gordon Bennett (1942).


Bennett, James Gordon

Bennett, James Gordon, 1841–1918, American newspaper proprietor, b. New York City; son of James Gordon Bennett. Educated mostly in France, he took over (1867) from his father the management of the New York Herald. In 1869–71 he financed Henry Stanley's expedition into Africa to find David Livingston, and from 1879 to 1881 he supported the ill-fated expedition of G. W. De Long to the arctic region. In reporting international news the Herald scored repeated triumphs. After 1877, Bennett lived mostly in Paris, directing his newspapers by cable, and with John W. Mackay he organized (1883) the Commercial Cable Company to handle European dispatches. He established London and Paris daily editions of the Herald; the Paris paper was an unprofitable, sincere attempt to promote international goodwill. Bennett was fond of sports, especially of yachting, and established the James Gordon Bennett cup as a trophy in international yacht races and similar cups for balloon and airplane races.

Bibliography

See R. O'Connor, The Scandalous Mr. Bennett (1962); D. C. Seitz, The James Gordon Bennetts (1928, repr. 1973); S. Jefferson, Gordon Bennett and the First Yacht Race across the Atlantic (2016).

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Bennett, James Gordon

(1795–1872) journalist, newspaper publisher; born in Banffshire, Scotland. Emigrating to Nova Scotia in 1819, he taught school there and in Boston, Mass., before taking up newspaper work in South Carolina, on the Charleston Courier. He later became Washington correspondent for the New York Enquirer, a party paper, and then associate editor of a paper created by its merger with the Morning Courier; but in 1832 he was fired for his views. In 1835, with $500 in capital, Bennett launched the New York Herald, a one-penny daily paper aimed at a mass audience, and embarked on the course that made him famous. Its editorials, unlike those of other papers, were not tied to the views of a particular party, and its coverage extended to sports and fashion, as well as to business and finance. Bennett also featured sensational stories focused on sex and crime, made heavy use of illustrations, dispatched correspondents to far-flung regions, and stressed getting the news fast. By the 1860s the Herald was the city's most popular paper, though it did not win great prestige. He retired in 1867, to be succeeded by his son.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.