Newspaper Titan

Written by Amanda Smith
Review by Viviane Crystal

Eleanor Josephine “Cissy” Medill Patterson was the first female editor and publisher to run the Chicago Tribune empire, which frequently included other Washington newspapers. Newspaper Titan spans 1840 to 1948 and covers not only Cissy’s career but also background on her family, friends, peers, and enemies. This historical biography is also a formidable analysis of the era’s political parties, social criteria, cultural icons, and foreign policy. Powerful Medill family members shaped destinies, sometimes with negative consequences. Cissy Patterson, however, was unique in using her intelligence and volatility to righteously fire those guilty of incompetence or to promote her editing policies. Knowing which stories would draw readers, she was unafraid to look beyond the norm in an age when “difference” was anathema to the status quo. Married disastrously at first, conservatively Republican, estranged from her daughter Felicia, Cissy Patterson returned from Europe to claim her share of wealth and power. She was also unafraid to blast FDR for his policy decisions. This book, a historical account of a famous personage and era, fluctuates between tedious overkill and riveting conflict.