The Paramount Newsreel began operation in 1927 and distributed roughly two movie theater issues per week until their closing in 1957. Movie theaters across the country would run these issues, usually on 35mm nitrate film stock. The Paramount News weekly issues typically ran from seven to nine minutes, with the average story running from forty to ninety seconds. At first, the newsreels ran silent, its action only listed via a title card. By the early 1930s, sound had been introduced to Paramount News, and a handful of voice over talent had been hired to now narrate the events over the filmed action (see below). Bill Slater (1903-1965) was the narrator for Paramount News for many years.
When the news warranted, the entire issue was devoted to one major story, as for the bombing of Pearl Harbor (1941), the historic inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt's third-term as president (1941), a presentation of a Mid-Century Sports Poll (1950) where sports figures such as Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Jack Dempsey, and Babe Didrikson (among others) were highlighted, or a recap of the All-American college football team of the previous year.
A typical issue began with a "hard" news item, which eventually wound its way down to "softer" news items as the issue progressed, usually ending with a recap of recent sports events.
Paramount cameramen shot some rare footage in its day, putting Paramount News near the forefront of the competition of the other newsreel divisions such as Pathé News (1910-1956), Fox Movietone News (1928-1963), Hearst Metrotone News/News of the Day (1914-1967), Universal Newsreel (1929-1967), and The March of Time (1935-1951).
A Paramount News exclusive was the 1937 Republic Steel strike in Chicago. On Memorial Day, May 26, 1937, a strike escalated into a massacre, documented by the 1937 film Republic Steel Strike Riot Newsreel Footage.
Highlights of Paramount News include basketball player Wilt Chamberlain being introduced to the sports world at the age of seventeen, playing high school basketball and countless special coverage of Paramount movie premieres and stars, including Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Martin and Lewis and Jerry Lewis solo, Frank Sinatra at New York's Paramount Theater in 1944, with throngs of bobby soxers swooning, and W.C. Fields on a Paramount set (filming International House) when the 1933 Long Beach earthquake hit.
Paramount mogul Adolph Zukor "presented" (produced) Paramount News and appeared in many of its newsreels throughout the years. The Paramount News slogan was "The Eyes and Ears of the World" ("The Eyes of the World" in its early silent days) and was included in its well-known closing, featuring a cameraman turning a large 35mm movie camera toward the audience. This was accompanied by a music theme titled "Paramount On Parade," composed by Elsie Janis.
Voiceover talent included Gregory Abbott (1900-1981), Paramount News' lead voice for its presentation of news and the only narrator to stay for the entire run. Paramount News incorporated sound into the newsreels during the early 1930s and Abbott was hired during its inception of sound and remained until the series ended in 1957), Gabriel Heatter (who introduced the voiceover talent in a special issue release of Paramount News during the early '30s, Gregory Abbott being among those introduced), Vincent Connoly, Maurice Joyce, Dennis James (later a TV game show and variety show host), Gilbert Martyn, and Frank Gallop among others.
The sports voiceover talent was handled by Bill Slater in the early years and from 1948 to the end of the Paramount run in 1957 was handled by the ex-athlete and football player Marty Glickman, who later became known as the voice of New York sports and renowned in sports broadcasting. Other broadcasters like Johnny Most, Don Dunphy and Jackson Beck who lent their hand doing sports voiceover for a few Paramount News releases (Jackson Beck also did a few "hard news" stories as well); Gregory Abbott, Gilbert Martyn, and Maurice Joyce also handled some sports stories.