Journalism Studies | Mass Communication | Public History
A from-the-trenches view of New York Daily News and New York Post runners and photographers who would stop at nothing to break the story and squash their tabloid arch rivals.
When author Mike Jaccarino was offered a job at the Daily News in 2006, he was asked a single question: “Kid, what are you going to do to help us beat the Post?” That was the year things went sideways at the News, when The New York Post surpassed its nemesis in circulation for the first time in the history of both papers. Tasked with one job—crush the Post—here is Jaccarino’s behind-the-scenes story of the runners and shooters on both sides would do anything and everything to get the scoop before their opponents.
The New York Daily News and the New York Post have long been the Hatfield and McCoys of American media: two warring tabloids in a town only big enough for one of them. As digital news made print journalism obsolete, the fight to survive in NYC became an epic, Darwinian battle. The reality of competition and the incredibly short half-life of breaking news ensured that runners and shooters did absolutely anything to be the first to get to the scene. In America’s Last Great Newspaper War, Jaccarino exposes the untold story of America’s Last Great Newspaper War, a tabloid death match of such ferocity and obsession its like has not occurred since Pulitzer-Hearst.
Told through the eyes of hungry “runners” (field reporters) and “shooters” (photographers), who would assemble like vultures at the scenes of the biggest stories of the day, Mike Jaccarino’s memoir unmasks the do-whatever-it-takes era of reporting where the ends justified the means and nothing was off limits. Jaccarino shares his no-holds-barred experiences—sneaking into hospitals, grinding out months-long stakeouts, infiltrating John Gotti’s crypt, conducting bidding wars for scoops, and high-speed car chases with Hillary Clinton, O.J. Simpson, and the baby mama of a philandering Congressman—all to get that coveted front page story.
As is typical of wars, tabloid and otherwise, this one concluded in principle long before the actual, declared cessation of hostilities. Today, few runners and shooters remain on the street. Their age and exploits are as bygone as the News/Post war and American newspapers, generally. America’s Last Great Newspaper War vividly and hilariously describes what happens when people are faced with a choice between professional success and survival and the consequences of their actions.
Jaccarino, Mike, "America's Last Great Newspaper War [Table of Contents]" (2020). Media Studies. 7.