The Cincinnati Post

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The Cincinnati Post
The Kentucky Post
The Cincinnati Post The Kentucky Post
The Cincinnati Post, Farewell Edition.jpg
"Farewell Edition" (last issue) of the Post
Type Defunct
Format Berliner
Owner(s) E. W. Scripps Company
(Scripps-Howard Newspapers)
Editor Mike Philipps
Staff writers 52[1][2]
Founded January 3, 1881
Language English
Ceased publication December 31, 2007
Headquarters 125 East Court St.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
United States
Circulation 27,000 (as of 2007[2])
OCLC number 51645668
Official website
Country United States
City Cincinnati, Ohio

The Cincinnati Post was an afternoon daily newspaper published by the E. W. Scripps Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. It was distributed in Northern Kentucky as The Kentucky Post. For much of its history, the Post was the most widely read paper in the Cincinnati area. Its readership was concentrated on the West Side of Cincinnati and in Northern Kentucky. In keeping with Scripps tradition, it published every day excluding Sundays.[3]

The Post began publishing in 1881 and launched its Northern Kentucky edition in 1890. It acquired The Cincinnati Times-Star in 1958. The Post ceased publication at the end of 2007, after 30 years in a joint operating agreement with The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Post was known throughout its history for local investigative journalism, with a focus on official misconduct.[4] In its heyday, it had a progressive, politically independent, pro-labor reputation compared to the Times-Star and Enquirer.[3][5] However, by the early 1990s, the paper's political stance had become more conservative, "a grumpily conservative sigh of resentment" according to journalist William Greider.[6]


The city copy desk in 1910

The Post began on January 3, 1881, as the Penny Paper,[7] published by Walter and Albert Wellman from a job office on Home Street. Weeks later, they took an investment from James E. Scripps and half-brother Edward Willis Scripps. The Scrippses had already made investments in The Detroit News and the Cleveland Penny Press.[8] In October, Walter Wellman was framed for blackmail in retaliation for exposés of policy racketeers and the police.[9] Wellman fled to Kentucky, where he was unlikely to face extradition, leaving the Scripps brothers in charge of the paper's operations.[8]

The Cincinnati Enquirer called the Penny Paper "a fair success" in its first year, estimating the upstart's circulation at about 6,000, fifth in a market served by seven papers in English and five in German.[10][11] E. W. Scripps estimated daily circulation at 7,000 in the city and 6,000 in the countryside, before countryside distribution was discontinued.

With an editorial staff that leaned Republican and included a former minister, the Penny Paper avoided the usual dispassionate approach to religious matters. When in 1882 the "Boy Preacher" Rev. Thomas Harrison held 13 weeks of camp meetings in Cincinnati, "the boy preacher and the little Penny Post [sic?] were vying with each other and cooperating with each other in the way of saving souls." The paper's circulation quickly quadrupled.[8][12]

In 1883, the paper was renamed the The Penny Post and the Scripps family assumed full ownership of the company, with E. W. having a controlling interest.[8][4] The next year, it became The Evening Post. In 1890, it once again changed names to The Cincinnati Post, as a sister publication, The Kentucky Post, debuted with increased coverage of Cincinnati's suburbs across the Ohio River.[1]

By 1903, the Post boasted of leading all Cincinnati dailies with a sworn daily average circulation of 146,884.[13]

Crusader for reform[edit]

The October 23, 1905, issue of the Post reprinted a speech by War Secretary William Howard Taft attacking Boss Cox.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Post crusaded against bossism, aligning with the Democratic Party locally. It launched campaigns against political boss Tom Campbell of Covington in 1883 and with George B. Cox of Cincinnati in 1904 and 1905, exposing graft and lampooning affiliates.[1] The Post's afternoon competitor, the Times-Star, strongly supported Boss Cox.[14] Its editor, Charles Phelps Taft, was the half-brother of War Secretary William Howard Taft. In 1904, the Post became the first newspaper in the country to suggest a presidential run for W. H. Taft, a prominent political reformer.[5]

The Post's frequent reports of collusion would at times decimate advertising revenue but, on the other hand, would prove immensely popular with readers, so that the paper always made a profit.[8][15] For example, in 1914, the Post weathered a severe drop in advertising after it exposed a scheme to extend the franchises of the local utilities and sided with striking streetcar workers.[16] Still, disappointed that the Post always had to moderate its investigative reporting to stay in the good graces of advertisers, E. W. Scripps founded the Chicago Day Book in 1911 as an experimental daily paper entirely devoid of advertising. The Day Book folded in 1917.[15]

In 1924, the Post was the only Cincinnati daily that endorsed a new municipal charter based on the council–manager system, nonpartisan elections, and proportional representation. The enactment of this charter the following year propelled the Charter Committee to power and led to the demise of political machines in Cincinnati.[3] In 1947, the Post successfully defended the proportional representation system against a campaign by Charles P. Taft to repeal it.[17]

Market dominance[edit]

In October 1935, parent company Scripps-Howard Newspapers purchased AM station WFBE 1230, changing its callsign to WCPO, which stands for "Cincinnati Post".[18] The station's news bulletins originated from a broom closet adjacent to the Post city room.[19] WCPO-TV signed on the air on July 26, 1949.[20]

On April 26, 1956, Scripps purchased a 36% controlling interest in The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati's remaining morning daily.[21] Then, on July 20, 1958, Scripps also acquired The Cincinnati Times-Star, folding the afternoon paper into the Post.[22][23] The combined paper, which operated out of the majestic Cincinnati Times-Star Building, would be published under the name The Cincinnati Post and Times-Star until December 31, 1974, when it reverted to The Cincinnati Post.[24]

Post circulation peaked at 275,000 in 1961.[2] In 1968, the Post had 50,000 more daily subscriptions than the Enquirer.[25]

With the Times-Star and Enquirer acquisitions, the Scripps family owned all of Cincinnati's dailies, along with WCPO-AM and WCPO-TV,[26] which consistently led local television ratings with Al Schottelkotte's news reports.[27] The E. W. Scripps Company kept the Enquirer separate from its other properties, even omitting the Scripps lighthouse logo from the Enquirer's masthead. Nevertheless, the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against the company in 1964.[28] In 1968, Scripps entered into a consent decree to sell the Enquirer. It was sold to Carl Lindner, Jr.'s American Financial Corporation on February 20, 1971.[29]

Joint operating agreement[edit]

The Post published from the Times-Star Building from 1958 to 1984.[24] American Financial, the Enquirer's corporate parent, purchased the building in 1975.[25]

On September 22, 1977, the Post signed a joint operating agreement (JOA) with The Cincinnati Enquirer.[30] For two years, the Post had secretly negotiated the terms of the JOA with the Enquirer while securing concessions from labor unions. The two papers petitioned the Justice Department for an antitrust exemption under the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970. This was the second JOA application under the Newspaper Preservation Act; the first, involving the Anchorage Daily News and Anchorage Times, was summarily approved but already seen as a failure.[25]

At Justice Department hearings, the Post claimed to be the brink of financial failure, with losses over the previous six years totaling $12 million. Scripps-Howard argued that the JOA would preserve a second editorial voice in Cincinnati, a "no-growth market". However, Post employees and suburban newspaper publishers accused the Post of producing artificial losses in an attempt to secure expected profits from a JOA. Scripps-Howard rejected an informal offer by Larry Flynt to help fund a takeover of the Post by its employees instead of signing the JOA.[5] Post coverage of the proceedings was limited to a single Saturday article, in contrast to multiple reports published in the Enquirer.[25]

The EnquirerPost agreement was approved on November 26, 1979,[31] taking effect after negotiations and legal battles with unions, including with 131 Post printers who had been guaranteed jobs for life.[25] As the more viable paper, the Enquirer received an 80% stake in the business and handled all business functions of both papers, including printing, distribution, and selling advertising.[32] The Post forwent Sunday publishing, a major advantage the Enquirer had over the Post. The Post eliminated 500 of 600 jobs as a result of the agreement.[25]

On November 1, 1996, the Post launched its website, @The Post. Due to the JOA, it launched concurrently with the Enquirer's site, Classified advertising appeared on a shared website, GoCincinnati!,[33] which also offered Internet access subscriptions. Both papers' websites moved to in August 1998.

On April 10, 2000, the Enquirer and Post downsized from the traditional broadsheet format to the Berliner format.[34]

Decline and closure[edit]

In a pattern seen throughout the industry, the Post declined severely during the 30-year term of the JOA. In 1977, when the agreement was announced, the Post had a daily circulation of 195,000,[32] more than the Enquirer,[25] but by September 2003, the Post's daily circulation had fallen to 42,219, or 23% of the Enquirer's 182,176.[30]

In January 2004, the Enquirer informed the Post of its intention to let the JOA expire on December 31, 2007.[30][35] That spring, the Post ended distribution in the northern suburbs in Butler and Warren counties to concentrate on Hamilton County and its Northern Kentucky edition. Also that year, political cartoonist Jeff Stahler left the Post for The Columbus Dispatch. In June 2005, the Post closed its Kentucky newsroom and announced early retirement offers to employees in advance of its probable closure. These changes resulted in profits of $23.5 million in 2005 and $20.7 million the following year.[32] By 2007, the paper employed only 52 newsroom staff,[1] while its circulation had declined to 27,000,[36][2] an estimated four percent of local households.[37] On July 17, parent company E. W. Scripps confirmed that both The Cincinnati Post and The Kentucky Post would cease publication on the day of the JOA's expiration.[38]

The Post published its final print edition on December 31, 2007.[11] The commemorative "Farewell Edition" led with the headline "–30–", meaning "the end" in newsroom jargon.[39] About 30 Enquirer employees assigned to Post operations lost their jobs.[40] At a farewell party in the Post newsroom, a band played for the first time the "Cincinnati Post March",[39] which was composed by John N. Klohr and Frank Simon in 1931 for the paper's 50th anniversary.[41]

The Post came to an end due to a number of factors, including the end of the joint operating agreement, a 75% decrease in readership, and decreasing advertising revenues.[3] However, some Post employees faulted the Enquirer for neglecting its partner, citing empty or outdated newsboxes[32] and uncooperative subscription agents.[3]


The day after the Post's closure, Scripps launched as a Northern Kentucky news website competing with Gannett's A dedicated staff embedded in WCPO-TV's newsroom supplemented content from[42] In 2009, the website had two staff members plus interns.[43] In 2013, began redirecting visitors to

WCPO-TV replaced the Post as sponsor of the local qualification round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.[44]

A 2009 study attempted to measure the impact of the Post's closure on the political process in Northern Kentucky, a traditional stronghold for the paper. It concluded that the closure caused an initial short-term decline in political competition and voter turnout, despite the Post having low circulation in its final years.[36]

Notable former employees[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Rutledge, Mike (December 30, 2007). "A voice is stilled". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). 
  2. ^ a b c d Driehaus, Bob (December 31, 2007). "In Cincinnati, a 126-Year-Old Paper Goes to Press for the Last Time". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
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  6. ^ a b Greider, William (1992). Who Will Tell The People: The Betrayal Of American Democracy. New York City: Simon & Schuster. pp. 291–293. ISBN 0-671-68891-X. 
  7. ^ About The penny paper. (Cincinnati Ohio) 1881–1882
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  11. ^ a b Winternitz, Felix; Bellman, Sacha DeVroomen (November 18, 2008). Insiders' Guide to Cincinnati (7th ed.). Globe Pequot Press. p. 381. ISBN 0-7627-4180-5. ISSN 1527-1188. Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
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  18. ^ Martini, Michael A. (2011). Cincinnati Radio. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7385-8864-3. 
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  21. ^ "36% of Cincinnati Enquirer Stock Sold to Affiliate of Scripps Chain; Chicago Investment House Accepts Its Offer of $4,059,000 for Debentures—Two Other Papers Also Bid". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Associated Press. April 27, 1956. 
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  23. ^ "Cincinnati Times-Star Is Sold And Merged With Scripps' Post". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Associated Press. July 21, 1958. 
  24. ^ a b Suess, Jeff (January 13, 2013). "Did you know? Times-Star Building is news icon". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g Dillehay, Whayne (October 1978). "How To Succeed In Newspapering Without Really Trying". Cincinnati (Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce) 12 (1): 77–81, 123–127. 
  26. ^ Murtha, Lisa (November 8, 2014). "Scripps: Once, They Bought Ink by the Barrel". City Wise. Emmis Communications. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  27. ^ Horstman, Barry M. (March 22, 1999). "Al Schottelkotte: He set the pace for TV news". The Cincinnati Post (E. W. Scripps Company). Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. 
  28. ^ "Newspapers: Separation in Cincinnati". Time. October 11, 1968. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Scripps O.K.'s Sale of Enquirer Control". Chicago Tribune 124 (31). United Press International. February 20, 1971. p. 2:7. 
  30. ^ a b c Peale, Cliff (January 17, 2004). "Post pact will expire". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
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  32. ^ a b c d Driehaus, Bob (February 21, 2007). "Cover Story: The Deal That Changed Everything". Cincinnati CityBeat. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  33. ^ Brewer, Charles (October 27, 1996). "Most papers tiptoeing onto Internet". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). 
  34. ^ "News for the New Century". Gannett Company. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
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  36. ^ a b Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam; Garrido, Miguel (2009). "Do newspapers matter? Evidence from the closure of The Cincinnati Post". Discussion papers in economics (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs) (236). hdl:10419/59031. 
  37. ^ "Cincinnati Post ceases publication; Ky. Web news site to launch". Cincinnati Business Courier (American City Business Journals). December 31, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Local Post newspapers to fold at end of year". Cincinnati Business Courier (American City Business Journals). July 17, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  39. ^ a b Coolidge, Sharon (January 1, 2008). "For Post, one final edition". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
  40. ^ "Enquirer workers to lose jobs in Post closing". Cincinnati Business Courier (American City Business Journals). October 23, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  41. ^ Osborne, William (2004). Music in Ohio. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. pp. 462, 621. ISBN 0-87338-775-9 – via Google Books. 
  42. ^ Malone, Michael (February 22, 2008). "Paper Now a Station Site". Broadcasting & Cable (NewBay Media). Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Blog draws in readers; boosts's hits" (Press release). E. W. Scripps Company. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  44. ^ "WCPO to sponsor local Scripps bee". Cincinnati Business Courier (American City Business Journals). August 16, 2007. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]