The Washington Herald first appeared on October 8, 1906 with the aim of upholding serious journalism in an era of muckraking. The paper was founded and edited by Scott C. Bone, an eminent newspaperman and former managing editor of the Washington Post from 1888 until his dismissal by new owner John R. McLean in 1905. Bone published the 16-page morning daily to challenge the position of the Post as the foundation of Washington journalism. At its peak, the Herald enjoyed a circulation of roughly 50,000, and surpassed the Post in daily sales. It occupied offices at 734 Fifteenth Street, in close vicinity to newspaper row in the city’s northwest quadrant, and its editorial board included prominent figures such as managing editor William P. Spargeon, the first president of the National Press Club. Bone himself garnered respect in the newspaper world for his work with the Post, and later the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and went on to become governor of Alaska.
The paper created a niche for itself based on substantive news reporting, displaying the motto “A Paper of Quality” on its masthead. An early advertisement proclaimed the arrival of the Herald as a “clean, compact, newsy newspaper that would appeal to the intelligent and discriminating clientele of Washington.” Its front page most prominently featured discussions of domestic politics, followed by stories of international scope, and the occasional newsworthy crime or personal interest story. The Herald also included a page each on sports, market news, and women’s interest, plus a slew of advertisements and classifieds. Its Sunday edition attempted to rival that of the Post with a 30-page edition featuring special sections on society news, literature, theater, and serialized fiction.
Although the Herald rose to be one of the top three penny dailies in Washington, it underwent a series of transformations after its second decade. In 1913, Clinton T. Brainerd, president of the McClure Syndicate Service, purchased the paper. In 1922, the Herald was taken over by William Randolph Hearst who appointed one of the first female newspaper editors of the era – Eleanor Medill “Cissy” Patterson of the Medill media dynasty. Cissy Patterson revived the paper and its popularity, and in 1939 she merged it with the Washington Times creating the Washington Times-Herald. After her death in 1948, however, the paper declined once again. The Herald died an ironic death in 1954 when the Times-Herald was merged with the Washington Post. Although named the Washington Post and Times Herald, the Post restored its original name in 1973 and the Herald faded into obscurity.