The Providence Journal

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The Providence Journal / Logo
The Providence Journal front page.jpg
The July 27, 2005 front page of
The Providence Journal
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Local Media Group
Publisher Howard Sutton
Founded 1829
Headquarters 75 Fountain Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02902  United States
Circulation 74,400 Mon.-Fri.
99,100 Sunday[1]

The Providence Journal, nicknamed the ProJo, is a daily newspaper serving the metropolitan area of Providence, Rhode Island and is the largest newspaper in Rhode Island. The newspaper was first published in 1829 and is the oldest continuously-published daily newspaper in the United States. The newspaper has won four Pulitzer Prizes.


The newspaper began publishing as The Providence Daily Journal in 1832. In 1868, the Journal began to publish the afternoon paper The Evening Bulletin. In 1872 the first diner in America, a horse-drawn wagon serving hot food, was founded to serve the employees of the Providence Journal. The Journal dropped "Daily" from its name and became The Providence Journal in 1920. In 1992, the Bulletin was discontinued and its name was appended onto that of the morning paper: The Providence Journal-Bulletin. After beginning online service in 1995, the Journal established in 1996. In 1998, the paper's name was shortened back to The Providence Journal.[2]

The Journal bills itself as "America's oldest daily newspaper in continuous publication," a distinction that comes from the fact that The Hartford Courant, started in 1764, did not become a daily until 1837 and The New York Post, which began daily publication in 1801, had to suspend publication during strikes in 1958 and 1978.[3]

The paper's history has reflected the waxing and waning of newspaper popularity throughout the United States.

During its heyday, the Journal had news bureaus throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, a trend that had been inaugurated in 1925 by then-managing editor Sevellon Brown. Bureaus in Westerly, South Kingstown, Warwick, West Warwick, Greenville, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Newport, Bristol/Warren, Attleboro and Fall River were designed to make sure that reporters were only 20 minutes away from breaking news.[4]

The paper also had a variety of regional editions, which it called zones, that focused on city and town news. The system produced an intense focus on local news typically seen only in small-town newspapers. For example, everyone who died in the Journal's coverage area, rich or poor, received a free staff-written obituary.

But in the 1990s, those rising production costs and declines in circulation prompted the Journal to consolidate both the bureaus and the editions. (The paper, in an attempt to raise revenue, began charging for obituaries on January 4, 2005.) The editors tried to reinvigorate the coverage of city and town news in 1996, but competition from the Internet added fuel to the decline. The paper's last Massachusetts edition, for example, was published on March 10, 2006.

On Oct. 10, 2008 the paper stopped publishing all of its zoned editions in Rhode Island and laid off 33 news staffers, including three managers. Even during the Great Depression, the Journal had not terminated news staff to cut costs.

The next few years included an extensive campaign to make the Internet version of the paper profitable. The Journal aggressively marketed its news on the web, pushing to get detailed stories onto its website,, before competing radio, television and other print outlets. But circulation continued to decline and online advertising failed to compensate.

On Oct. 18, 2011 with circulation down to about 94,000 on weekdays and 129,000 on Sundays (down from 164,000 and over 231,000 in 2005),[5] the Journal renamed its website, a move which meant that most of the previously Internet links to its content no longer worked. It also began implementing a system to require online readers to pay for content. Interactive images of its newspaper pages were initially available on personal computers and the iPad for free. The paywall was put in place on February 28, 2012. The new website was part of a larger rebranding project by Nail Communications which also included a campaign entitled "We Work For The Truth".[6] The rebranding failed to stem the circulation decline.

Throughout most of its history, the paper was privately owned. After the Journal became publicly traded and had acquired several television stations throughout the country, it was sold to the Dallas-based Belo Corp in 1996. Belo also owned several television stations. The company later split into two entities and one—A.H. Belo—took control of the newspapers.

On Dec. 4, 2013, A.H. Belo announced that it was seeking a buyer for the Journal, including its headquarters on 75 Fountain St. and its separate printing facility.[7] The company said it wanted to focus on business interests in Dallas. Workers were not surprised because the announcement came after the company sold one of its other papers, the Riverside Press-Enterprise in California.[8]

A.H. Belo announced on July 22, 2014 that it was selling the paper's assets to New Media Investment Group Inc., parent company of GateHouse Media, for $46 million. By then, the Journal's Monday through Friday circulation had dropped to 74,400, with an average of 99,100 on Sundays. Its website was getting 1.4 million unique users on an average month.[9]

The sale was completed on Sept. 3, 2014, when New Media Investment Group Inc., the parent company of Fairport, N.Y.-based GateHouse Media, finalized its $46-million purchase of The Providence Journal from Dallas-based A. H. Belo Corporation, which had owned The Journal since 1996.

With completion of the sale, Bernie Szachara, senior vice president for publishing and group publisher at Local Media Group, a division of GateHouse Media, assumes the title of interim publisher, succeeding Howard G. Sutton, who remains as a consultant through the end of 2014. A national search for a permanent publisher will occur next year.



The Providence Journal prices are: $1.00 daily, $3.50 Sunday.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "Longtime Journal publisher Sutton to retire; interim publisher named". 2014-08-29. Retrieved 2014-08-29. 
  2. ^ "Digital Extra: The Journal's 175th Anniversary". The Providence Journal Co. 2004-07-21. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  3. ^ "Digital Extra: The Journal's 175th Anniversary - For the record". The Providence Journal Co. 2004-07-21. Retrieved 2010-08-28. 
  4. ^ "The Providence Journal Company"., Company Histories & Profiles. n.d. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  5. ^ "Projo hit by 61% drop in advertising since '05; digital declining". 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  6. ^ Providence Journal Commercial - "Truth"
  7. ^ "A.H. Belo Hires Arkansas Firm to Explore Sale of the Providence Journal". Rhode Island Public Radio. 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  8. ^ "Scott MacKay Commentary: Providence Journal, We Knew Ye Well". Rhode Island Public Radio. 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  9. ^ "Longtime Journal publisher Sutton to retire; interim publisher named". 2014-08-29. Retrieved 2014-08-29. 
  10. ^ "New Media completes purchase of The Providence Journal". 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2014-09-03. 

External links[edit]