The Star-Ledger is the largest circulated newspaper in the U.S. state of New Jersey and is based in Newark. It is a sister paper to The Jersey Journal of Jersey City, The Times of Trenton and the Staten Island Advance, all of which are owned by Advance Publications.
In 2007, The Star-Ledger's daily circulation was reportedly more than the next two largest New Jersey newspapers combined and its Sunday circulation larger than the next three papers combined. It has suffered great declines in print circulation in recent years, to 180,000 daily in 2013 and 114,000 “individually paid print circulation,” that is the number of copies being bought by subscription or at newsstands, in 2015.
In July 2013, The Ledger announced that it would sell its headquarters building in Newark. In 2013, Advance Publications announced it was exploring cost-saving changes among its New Jersey properties, but was not considering mergers or changes in publication frequency at any of the newspapers, nor the elimination of home delivery.
The Newark Daily Advertiser, founded in 1832, was Newark's first daily newspaper. It subsequently evolved into the Newark Star-Eagle, owned by what eventually became Block Communications. S. I. Newhouse bought the Star-Eagle from Block in 1939 and merged it with the Newark Ledger to become the Newark Star-Ledger. The paper dropped Newark from its masthead sometime in the 1970s, but is still popularly called the Newark Star-Ledger by many New Jersey residents.
During the 1960s The Star-Ledger's chief competitor was the Newark Evening News, once the most popular newspaper in New Jersey. In March 1971, the Star-Ledger surpassed the Evening News in daily circulation, because the Newark News was on strike. The Evening News shut down in 1972.
After the Newark Evening News moved to a high-traffic area (with the potential of trapping its delivery trucks in inner-city traffic) the Star-Ledger opened a satellite plant in Piscataway. The Piscataway location offered quick access to Union, Monmouth, Somerset, and Middlesex counties.
The Star-Ledger was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2005 for its comprehensive and clear-headed coverage of the resignation of the Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey, after he confessed to adultery with a male lover.
The paper awards the Star-Ledger Trophy each year to the number one high school teams in their respective sport in New Jersey.
2000s financial troubles
In 2005, George Arwady became the publisher of The Star-Ledger. A graduate of Columbia University, Arwady had previously been the publisher of the Kalamazoo Gazette in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Having worked closely with the Newhouse family for years, Arwady was asked to move to Newark to financially revamp the paper.
Because the paper was losing money, parent company Advance Publications said on July 31, 2008, that it would sell the Star-Ledger unless 200 non-union staff voluntarily left under a buyout offer, and its unionized truck drivers and mailers agreed to concessions. On September 16 publisher George Arwady sent employees an email saying that management felt progress had been made on the buyout and concessions from the mailers, but that management is "far from an agreement with the Drivers' union.". The email continued:
- Since it is doubtful that the Drivers will ratify an agreement by October 8, 2008, we will be sending formal notices to all employees this week, as required by both federal and New Jersey law, advising you that the Company will be sold, or, failing that, that it will close operations on January 5, 2009.
On October 24, 2008, the newspaper announced that 168 newsroom employees had offered to take the company's buyout offer, and that the company had accepted 151 of them, which resulted in a 40% reduction in newsroom staff.
On January 16, 2013, the newspaper announced layoffs of 34 employees including 18 newsroom staff.
The Newark headquarters of the Star-Ledger, home to the state's largest newspaper for nearly 50 years, was sold to a New York developer in July 2014, according to a news article released by the paper.
The Star-Ledger, which Vezza said will continue to be published seven days a week, will retain a presence in Newark in leased office space located within the downtown Gateway Center complex — where the publisher, the newspaper's editorial board, its columnists, its magazine staff and a handful of other jobs will be based. Advance Publications, the owner of the newspaper, launched a new media company this year — NJ Advance Media — that will provide content, advertising and marketing services for its online presence at NJ.com, and many of its New Jersey newspapers out of the offices in Woodbridge. The sales and marketing staffs moved to Woodbridge in June 2014.
- Amzi Armstrong (1832–?)
- William Burnet Kinney (?–1851)
- Thomas T. Kinney (1851–1895)
- James Smith, Jr. (1895–1915)
- Paul Block (1915–1939)
- Samuel Irving Newhouse, Sr. (1939–1979)
- Donald Newhouse (1979–Incumbent)
- Richard Vezza
In October 2009, managing editor Kevin Whitmer took over as editor.
Prior to Whitmer, James Willse manned the helm from 1995. He was appointed following the retirement of 32-year veteran editor Mort Pye. Willse was the former editor and publisher of the New York Daily News. Prior to accepting the Ledger's editor position, Willse headed up the review of electronic information options for all Newhouse newspapers. He also expanded the Ledger' use of color and encouraged a more aggressive editorial team. The National Press Foundation named Willse its 1999 recipient of the George Beveridge Editor of the Year Award in recognition of Ledger's coverage of racial profiling by the New Jersey State Police.
The Star-Ledger in popular culture
- The Star-Ledger was featured prominently various times in the television series The Sopranos, an HBO drama series set in New Jersey. Tony Soprano received home delivery of the paper, and several episodes opened with him picking it up at the end of his driveway.
- The Star-Ledger serves as the inspiration for a fictional newspaper in an award-winning series of mystery novels by Brad Parks.
- The newspaper was also referenced by comedian George Carlin in the 2004 comedy/drama, Jersey Girl, which was written and directed by New Jersey native Kevin Smith.
- The Star-Ledger was also featured in Robert Kurson's 2004 novel, Shadow Divers.
The Star-Ledger prices are $1.50 weekdays, $2 Saturdays & $3 Sundays/Thanksgiving Day. May be higher outside New Jersey.