Friday, November 23, 2012

Helen Rogers Reid

Born this day in 1882: Helen Rogers Reid (1882–1970), driving force behind the revival and success of New York Tribune/ New York Herald Tribune.

Helen Rogers was a native of Wisconsin. She worked her way through Barnard College and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1903. She then began working as a social secretary for Elisabeth Mills Reid, daughter of the financier Darius Ogden Mills, and wife of Whitelaw Reid. Mr. Reid was owner of the flagging New York Tribune. In 1911 she married their son, Ogden. Ogden inherited the newspaper from his father the following year. The couple had three  children: two sons, Whitelaw and Ogden, and one daughter, Elizabeth, who died in 1924
Helen read was active in the suffrage movement and was treasurer of the state’s suffrage campaign. She was a proponent not only of the vote, but of women’s economic independence from their husbands. She also believed that husbands should take a more direct role in running a household and raising children.
Meanwhile, the Tribune continued to lose money, despite the millions the Reid family had been injecting into it. At her husbands pleas, Helen began working at the paper, soliticiting advertisements. She combined a sharp business acumen with her extensive social contacts to attract advertisors. Two months later she was head of the advertising department. She was instrumental in the Tribune’s acquiring of the New York Herald, which resulted in the newly minted New York Heard Tribune.
Reid served as vice-president of the paper from 1922 to 1947, then as president (following the death of Ogden) from 1947 to 1953. She expanded the staff (among them many women) and introduced new features to the paper, such as gardening, cooking, that would attract a middle-class female readership and placed women in prominent editorial roles. The Herald Tribune became one of the leading papers of the nation, and through it Reid wielded political power.
In 1953 she passed the presidency on to her son Whitelaw and presided as chair of the board until 1955, after which she stepped down as chair, but remained on the board.

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