The History of and Story Behind The Washington Post Logo

Washington Post

The Washington Post is one of the most important daily newspapers in American History. The newspaper has maintained a regional status centered in the District of Columbia while it has spread across the nation and internationally particularly with the advent of digital news. Focusing on American political news, The Washington Post has been awarded 69 Pulitzer Prizes (second only to the New York Times), 18 Nieman Fellowships for journalists, and 368 White House News Photograph Awards. With many historically important stories and famed journalists, The Washington Post, also stands out for its famed logo. The bold Old English script cannot be ignored. Here is the history of and story behind The Washington Post logo.

The Washington Post Font Creator

The Washington Post stands out for its unique masthead. Its name is emboldened in a heavy script font. The newspaper’s logo cannot be replicated in a free font. It is called an “Engravers Old English” font and is closest to today’s “Old London Alternative” Font. The font we see today of The Washington Post logo was created by a prolific American typeface designer and technician. Morris Fuller Benton lived from 1870 to 1948. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1896 and became the head designer at American Type Founders from 1900 until 1937. During his tenure at ATF, Benton created over 220 logos for some of the most famous companies including The Washington Post. Best known for his use of sans-serif or Gothic style designs, Benton crafted the technology and design of The Washington Post’s Old English style script in its logo.

Mergers Throughout History

During the course of its history, The Washington Post changed hands several times and even merged with other American newspapers at times. The newspaper’s logo and masthead changed as well, but the iconic logo we see today became permanent early in the twentieth century. The newspaper was founded in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins. In 1880 a Sunday edition was added, and The Washington Post became the first American newspaper to be published seven days a week. In the meantime, Hutchins purchased The Union newspaper and the two papers merged. The merger lasted just two weeks. In 1889 The Washington Post was sold to Frank Hattan and Beriah Wilkins. They famously promoted an essay contest and commissioned John Philip Sousa to compose a song and perform with his band in Washington DC for the award ceremony. At the time The Washington Post had moved to 14th and E Street NW in the District of Columbia. The building served as the newspaper’s headquarters, news room and printing facility. The Washington Post was open and working 24 hours a day. John McLean, owner of The Cincinnati Enquirer, purchased The Washington Post in 1905 and continued the newspaper’s success. However, when he died in 1916 he put the newspaper in a trust to keep his playboy boy son Ned from running the newspaper. Ned had the trust broken in Court and ran The Washington Post into the ground do to his lavish lifestyle and questionable political affiliations.

The Meyer Graham Era

Fortunately The Washington Post was able to recover. Financier Eugene Meyer purchased The Washington Post from Ned McLean but not without a fight. Meyer offered McLean $5 million for the paper in 1929, but McClean declined. A few years later, Meyer purchased The Washington Post at an auction and paid $825,000. While Meyer was the newspaper’s publisher and owner, The Washington Post merged with The Herald. The Washington Post’s logo was more well known and prominent and remained the newspaper’s logo. Upon his death, Meyer left The Washington Post to his son-in-law Phil Graham. The newspaper continued its success. When Phil Graham died, his wife, Eugene Meyer’s daughter, Katherine took over. She was intimidated because not many women ran newspapers at the time. Katherine Graham was The Washington Post’s publisher from 1969 until 1979 when her son Donald took over.

The Pentagon Papers

Under Katherine Graham’s leadership, The Washington Post was noted for many great stories. In 1971 Katherine Graham made The Washington Post public. The same year, the paper published a story about the Pentagon Papers controversy. Called “The Report of the Office of Defense Vietnam Task Force”, the story investigated the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The reporting heightened the citizens of the United States anger at the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Pulitzer Prize – Woodward & Bernstein

On the heals of The Pentagon Papers revelation and President Richard Nixon’s run for re-election, The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ran stories about their investigation into the burglary at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate apartments. This of course unearthed the “Watergate” scandal that would lead to President Nixon’s resignation from office. Woodward and Bernstein won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting in The Washington Post.

Digitalization & The Jeff Bezos Era

Donald Graham continued his family’s success running The Washington Post after his mother retired in 1979. Donald Graham helped lead the newspaper into the digital age. The domain name was purchased in 1995, and the newspaper’s website and digitalized version were launched. While many newspapers were fading with the rise of news on the internet, The Washington Post continued to thrive with both paper copies and digital versions. In 2013 the Graham family sold The Washington Post to Nash Holdings, LLC for $250 million. The company’s main shareholder is Jeff Bezos, the founder and owner of Amazon and one of the wealthiest person in the world. As of 2013 The Washington Post is one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the United States along with USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. The Washington Journal’s main office is located at 1301 K Street NW in Washington DC at the West Tower, One Franklyn Square.

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