The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the major regional newspaper in St. Louis, serving Greater St. Louis. It is one of the largest newspapers in the midwestern United States. It is the only remaining printed daily newspaper in St. Louis.
In 1878, Joseph Pulitzer purchased the bankrupt St. Louis Dispatch at a public auction and merged it with the St. Louis Evening Post to create the St. Louis Post and Dispatch, whose title was soon shortened to its current form. He appointed John A. Cockerill as the managing editor. Its first edition, 4,020 copies of four pages each, appeared on December 12, 1878.
In 1882, James Overton Broadhead ran for US Congress against John Glover. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, at Cockerill's direction, ran a number of articles questioning Broadhead's role in a lawsuit between a gaslight company and the city; Broadhead never responded to the charges. Broadhead's friend and law partner, Alonzo W. Slayback, publicly defended Broadhead, asserting that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was nothing more than a "blackmailing sheet." The next day, 13 Oct 1882, Cockerill re-ran an offensive "card" by John Glover that the paper had published the prior November (11 Nov 1881). Incensed, Slayback barged into Cockerill's offices at the paper demanding an apology. Cockerill shot and killed Slayback; he claimed self-defense, and a pistol was allegedly found on Slayback's body. A grand jury refused to indict Cockerill for murder, but the economic consequences for the paper were severe. Therefore, in May 1883, Pulitzer sent Cockerill to New York to manage the New York World for him.
On April 10, 1907, Pulitzer wrote what became known as the paper's platform:
I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.
After his retirement, generations of Pulitzers guided the newspaper, ending when great-grandson Joseph Pulitzer IV left the company in 1995.
The old Post-Dispatch was characterized by a liberal editorial page and columnists, including Marquis Childs. The editorial page was noted also for political cartoons by Daniel R. Fitzpatrick and Bill Mauldin.
The Post-Dispatch was one of the first daily newspapers to print a comics section in color, on the back page of the features section, styled the "Everyday Magazine."
Several months prior to the anniversary edition, the newspaper published a 63rd anniversary tribute to "Our Own Oddities", a lighthearted feature that ran from 1940 to 1990.
On February 11, 1901, the paper introduced a front page feature called the "Weatherbird", a cartoon bird accompanying the daily weather forecast. "Weatherbird" is the oldest continuous cartoon in the United States today. Created by Harry B. Martin, who drew it through 1903, it has since been drawn by Oscar Chopin (1903–1910); S. Carlisle Martin (1910–1932); Amadee Wohlschlaeger (1932–1981); Albert Schweitzer, the first one to draw the Weatherbird in color (1981–1986); and Dan Martin (1986–present). Peters Shoe Company in St. Louis made Weatherbird Shoes.
On January 13, 2004, the Post-Dispatch published a 125th anniversary edition, which included some highlights of the paper's 125 years:
- The story of Charles Lindbergh, who flew across the Atlantic despite being denied financial or written support from the Post-Dispatch.
- A Pulitzer Prize-winning campaign to clean up smoke pollution in St. Louis. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the city had the filthiest air in America. See 1939 St. Louis smog.
- The sports coverage, including nine "St. Louis baseball Cardinals" championships, an NBA title by the St. Louis Hawks in 1958, and the 2000 Super Bowl victory of the St. Louis Rams.
- Coverage of the city's "cultural icons" including Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, Chuck Berry, and Miles Davis.
On January 31, 2005, Michael Pulitzer announced the sale of Pulitzer, Inc. and all its assets, including the Post-Dispatch and a small share of the St. Louis Cardinals, to Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, for $1.46 billion. He said no family members would serve on the board of the merged company.
The Post-Dispatch underwent a major redesign in September 2005, which brought a new layout, new fonts, and localized editions for St. Charles County and Illinois. Many readers have criticized the new format for devoting a larger percentage of page space to advertisements and relying too much on wire services and dispatches from other newspapers.
On March 12, 2007, the paper eliminated 31 jobs, mostly in its circulation, classified phone rooms, production, purchasing, telephone operations and marketing departments.
Circulation dropped for the daily paper from 213,472 to 191,631 to 178,801 for the two years after 2010, ending on September 30, 2011, and September 30, 2012. The Sunday paper also decreased from 401,427 to 332,825 to 299,227.
On May 4, 2012, the Post-Dispatch named a new editor, Gilbert Bailon. "Robbins steps down as editor of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bailon takes role".
The Post-Dispatch prices are: $1.50 daily, $2.50 Sunday/Thanksgiving Day. On October 1, 2012, the price of the daily edition increased by 50% to $1.50. Six days later its Sunday/Thanksgiving edition increased its price 25%. Sales tax is included at newsracks.
According to Echomedia.com, the paper's paid print circulation figures (updated on June 5, 2014) were 225,889 daily and 252,000 Sunday, while St. Louis Magazine mentioned the corresponding figures from the Alliance for Audited Media in March 2014 for the previous six-month average were 137,380 daily and 223,826 Sunday.
- Harper Barnes, film and music critic, 1965–1970, 1974–1997.
- Jerry Berger, society columnist, 1980–2004.
- Bob Broeg, Hall of Fame baseball writer, 1946–2004.
- Jacob Burck, political cartoonist, 1937–1938.
- Cole Charles Campbell, editor, 1996–2000.
- Robert Cohen, photographer, 1999–
- Richard Dudman, national affairs correspondent and Washington bureau chief, 1950–1981
- Rick Hummel Hall of Fame baseball writer, 1971–
- Bill Lambrecht, investigative reporter, former Washington bureau chief, 1978–2013
- Joe Mahr Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist 2006–2009
- Bill McClellan, columnist, 1980–
- Bernie Miklasz, sports columnist, 1985–2015
- Eric Mink, media critic, op-ed editor/columnist, 1977–1993, 2004–2009
- Robert Minor, political cartoonist, 1907–1911.
- Joe Pollack, film, drama and restaurant critic, 1972–1995.
- Charlie Ross, chief Washington correspondent and editor 1918-1945
- Lou Rose, investigative reporter, 1964–1995 
- , baseball writer and copy editor, 1947–1990
- Elaine Viets, columnist, 1975–2000.
- Joe Williams, film critic, 1996–2015
- Amadee Wohlschlager, cartoonist, sports cartoonist, Weatherbird artist, 1932–1981
- Dan Martin, cartoonist, Weatherbird artist, 1986–present
- St. Louis Beacon, an online-only news site founded by some former reporters and editors of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a major competing St. Louis daily newspaper, located one block away on the same street, closed in 1986
- St. Louis Sun, a short lived competing daily newspaper started in 1989
- 100 Neediest Cases, an annual charitable giving campaign sponsored in part by the Post-Dispatch
- Riverfront Times, the St. Louis weekly newspaper
- The Sporting News, another large paper started in St. Louis at offices on Tucker Boulevard, by a director of the St. Louis Browns
- Suburban Journals