As of 2009, its weekday circulation of 377,500 was the 11th-highest in the United States, and the highest among suburban newspapers. By January 2014, Newsday's total average circulation was 437,000 on weekdays, 434,000 on Saturdays and 495,000 on Sundays.
Founded by Alicia Patterson and her husband, Harry Guggenheim, the publication was first produced on September 3, 1940 from Hempstead. For many years until a major redesign in the 1970s, Newsday copied the Daily News format of short stories and numerous pictures. (Ironically, Patterson was fired as a writer at her father's Daily News in her early 20s, after getting the basic facts of a divorce wrong in a published report.) After Patterson's death in 1963, Guggenheim became publisher and editor.
In 1967, Guggenheim turned over the publisher position to Bill Moyers and continued as president and editor-in-chief. But Guggenheim was disappointed by the liberal drift of the newspaper under Moyers, criticizing what he called the "left-wing" coverage of Vietnam War protests. The two split over the 1968 presidential election, with Guggenheim signing an editorial supporting Richard Nixon, when Moyers supported Hubert Humphrey.
Guggenheim sold his majority share to the then-conservative Times-Mirror Company over the attempt of newspaper employees to block the sale, even though Moyers offered $10 million more than the Times-Mirror purchase price; Moyers resigned a few days later. Guggenheim, who died a year later, disinherited Moyers from his will.
After the competing Long Island Press (not to be confused with the alternative weekly of the same name) ceased publication in 1977, Newsday launched a separate Queens edition, followed by a New York City edition dubbed New York Newsday. In June 2000, Times Mirror merged with the Tribune Company, partnering Newsday with the New York City television station WPIX (Channel 11), also owned by Tribune.
News Corporation, headed by CEO Rupert Murdoch, attempted to purchase Newsday for US$580 million in April 2008. This was soon followed by a matching bid from Zuckerman and a $680 million bid from Cablevision. In May 2008, News Corporation withdrew its bid, and on May 12, 2008, Newsday reported that Cablevision would purchase the paper for $650 million. The sale was completed July 29, 2008.
Altice, a Netherlands-based multinational telecoms company, bought Cablevision, including Newsday and News 12 in 2016. However, Altice then sold a majority (75%) stake in Newsday back to Cablevision's former owner Charles Dolan and his son Patrick, making Patrick the CEO of Newsday. Altice disposed of its remaining stake in Newsday at the end of July 2018, which, combined with Charles Dolan's transfer of shares to son Patrick, makes Patrick the sole owner of Newsday.
Despite having a tabloid format, Newsday is not known for being sensationalistic, as are other local daily tabloids, such as the New York Daily News and the New York Post. This causes Newsday to sometimes be referred to as "the respectable tabloid".
In 2004, the alternative weekly newspaper Long Island Press (which is not related to the defunct daily of the same name) wrote that Newsday has used its clout to influence local politics in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Newsday created and sponsored a "Long Island at the Crossroads" advisory board in 1978, to recommend regional goals, supervise local government, and liaison with state and Federal officials.
It lasted approximately a decade.
On March 21, 2011, Newsday redesigned its front page, scrapping the nameplate and font used since the 1960s in favor of a sans-serif wordmark.
In 2008, Newsday was ranked 10th in terms of newspaper circulation in the United States.
A circulation scandal in 2004 revealed that the paper's daily and Sunday circulation had been inflated by 16.9% and 14.5%, respectively, in the auditing period September 30, 2002 to September 30, 2003. The Audit Bureau of Circulation adjusted average weekday circulation to 481,816 from 579,599; average Saturday circulation to 392,649 from 416,830; and average Sunday circulation to 574,081 from 671,820, and instituted twice-yearly audits.
On October 28, 2009, Newsday changed its web site to a paid-subscriber only model. Newsday.com would open its front page, classified ads, movie listings, and school closings to all site visitors, but access beyond this content would require a weekly fee - US$5 as of 2010. This fee would be waived for subscribers of the print edition of the paper, as well as for subscribers to parent-company Cablevision's Internet service. Through its first three months only 35 non-Optimum, non-Newsday subscribers signed up for the paid web site.
Newsday has won 19 Pulitzer Prizes and has been a finalist for 20 additional: If no individual is listed, award is for Newsday staff.
2008: Public Service (Finalist) -- Jennifer Barrios, Sophia Chang, Michael R. Ebert, Reid J. Epstein, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Eden Laikin, Herbert Lowe, Joseph Mallia, Jennifer Maloney, Luis Perez and Karla Schuster
In the 1985 comedy/thriller Compromising Positions, the lead character, played by Susan Sarandon, is a former Newsday journalist who is trying reestablish her career by selling a freelance story to the publication.
Naked Came the Stranger is a 1969 novel written as a literary hoax poking fun at contemporary American culture. Although credited to "Penelope Ashe", it was in fact written by a group of twenty-four journalists led by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady. McGrady's intention was to write a deliberately terrible book with a lot of sex, to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar. The book fulfilled the authors' expectations and became a bestseller in 1969; they revealed the hoax later that year, further spurring the book's popularity.
Former editor Howard Schneider appears in the documentary Three Identical Strangers to discuss Newsday's coverage of three young men who discovered they were separated as infants.
^Arlen, A., Arlen, M.J. The Huntress: The Adventures, Escapades, and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson: Aviatrix, Sportswoman, Journalist, Publisher (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2016) ISBN9781101871133
^Stevens, John D., Sensationalism and the New York Press (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991) ISBN0-231-07396-8
^Hamill, Pete, News Is a Verb: Journalism at the End of the Twentieth Century (New York: Ballantine Books, 1998) ISBN0-345-42528-6
^Keeler, Robert F. (1990). Newsday: a candid history of the respectable tabloid. Morrow. pp. 460-61. ISBN1-55710-053-5.
^Long Island Press, "Game Over: How the Paper's Monopoly Control Has Warped its Coverage and Hurt Long Island", by Christopher Twarowski, December 30, 2004: "Numerous politicians in both counties, county workers, directors of community groups and other sources claim that 'Newsday' uses its position as Long Island's only daily paper to strong-arm county officials, nonprofit directors, local leaders and rival publications and even to influence pieces of legislation -- often through fear, intimidation and other anti-competitive practices -- to further its political or commercial agenda".