Media in the 1960s

In the 1950s newspaper chains began to displace local family-owned newspapers. In 1953 independent family businesses owned 1,300 of America's 1,785 dailies. Only ninety-five newspaper chains owned a total of 485 papers. By 1980 the number of independent newspapers fell to 700. In addition to the business challenge of competing with television, American journalism also faced the problem of just-the-facts journalism unsuitable for reporting on the complex changes occurring in postwar America. The Civil Rights Movement, a rise in government secrecy, and the questioning of their own ideals of objectivity confronted print journalists. Changing trends in publishing methods, rising costs, and suburbanization lead to a crisis in metropolitan newspaper publishing. Newspaper consolidation, which began in the 1920s, increased in the mid- to late-1960s. "To be specific," reported Raymond B. Nixon, the industry's authority on consolidation, in 1968, "only forty-five of the 1,500 daily newspaper cities in the United States had two or more locally competing dailies at the beginning of 1968." Between 1945 and 1965, 421 daily newspapers merged or closed. As closings and mergers accelerated, so did chain ownership. Between 1945 and 1965 the number of papers owned by chains doubled from 368 in 1945 to 750 in 1965.

While television succeeds in bringing an audience to the scenes of news, their greatest disadvantage is in scaling down analysis to short, interpretive statements rather than the in-depth scrutiny print engages. Furthermore, print media tends to sustain coverage on events longer than television. While broadcast networks turned their attention to national stories in the early 1970s—primarily the Watergate scandal and the drawdown in Vietnam—television coverage of events concerning Native Americans diminished. Among local communities, print often conveys the pulse of a community or region. News stories, cartoons, and editorials gauge the tenor of politics in local communities.