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Top: Jewish Leaders Folder: Katherine Meyer Graham, Owner of Washington Post Company

The Washington Post's Media Holdings

( Hoover's Company Profiles ) top of page

Hoover Business Summary

The Washington Post Company has operations in newspaper publishing, magazine publishing, TV broadcasting, and cable TV. It presides over the highly respected The Washington Post newspaper and the #2 weekly newsmagazine, Newsweek. The publisher's portfolio also includes more than 20 Maryland community newspapers and half of the International Herald Tribune (Paris). It owns six TV stations, a regional sports cable network based in Detroit, and a regional cable system that serves mostly rural areas. The company also owns Kaplan Educational Centers, a test-preparation company, and a number of other smaller publishing and communications-technology operations.

Top Competitors: Gannett -- New York Times -- Time Warner top of page

Catherine Meyer Graham Autobiography

Star Tribune, 02-23-1997, pp 18F. top of page

Newsmaker Graham's view from atop the Post // Owner of Washington's star paper is candid but detached describing
her road from subservience to corporate power

Personal History
· By: Katharine Graham.
· Publisher: Knopf, 642 pages, $29.95.
· Review: Washi
ngton Post boss Graham tells a sad tale of a neglected childhood followed by an abusive marriage before she learned the ropes as an executive.

Katharine Graham, who owns the Washington Post, Newsweek magazine and several TV stations, has written a fascinating and candid memoir that is unusual for the fact that she makes only occasional appearances in it.

Graham is physically present; we learn almost everything she' s ever done. But she often seems emotionally detached. In 650 pages, we learn little of why she did what she did or how she felt about it.

She was born in June 1917, the third of five children, to Agnes and Eugene Meyer, a wealthy financier. Agnes proved a cold, distant and overbearing mother, something to which Katharine makes repeated references. "I can't say I think mom genuinely loved us," she writes. Her nanny was "the only person who was physically affectionate to me." She recalls spending one summer alone, reading in her room.

In 1933, her father purchased the Washington Post, at the time a paper of little influence in a five-paper market. He spent millions of dollars improving the plant and product. In 1946, he named Katharine's young husband, Phil Graham, publisher.

At this point, the book becomes a personal history of her husband, which is almost understandable given that at the time, women were largely considered extensions of their husbands.

Katharine had gone from subservient to her domineering, unapproving mother to subservience to a domineering, often unapproving husband. When the Post went public, her father gave Phil "the larger share of stock because, as dad explained to me, no man should be in the position of working for his wife," she writes. "Curiously, I not only concurred, but was in complete accord with this idea."

She also lacked confidence. "I only felt secure when Phil, whom the President {of the United States} liked, was with me and could do the talking."

Their marriage was not all it seemed to be. He was a frequent drunk who became abusive. He was also a philanderer and, as she discovered later, suffered from manic depression. Once, he left her - taking his majority share in the company with him - planning to marry his mis-tress. In one of the most emotional sections of the book, Katharine Graham says, "I seemed to be living on another planet." Despite all the misery he had caused her, she begged him to come back.

Another bout of depression eventually brought him back home, where, even after treatment, he killed himself. It must have been a terrible time. But its affect on her or her children isn't mentioned. The day after the funeral, she takes off for a vacation in Istanbul (where her mother has chartered a yacht). She'd done the same thing earlier, a week after her father died, returning to Europe to pick up her children (for some reason they weren't brought home to attend their grandfather's funeral) only to change her mind and extend her vacation by three weeks. Maybe the rich are different.

Finally, confidence - and celebrity

She ultimately decided to take over management of the company, and she admits she was bad at it. The poor decisions made under her watch included ill-conceived purchases (the Trenton Times, for one), start-ups (Inside Sports) and hires. She quickly earned a reputation of being difficult.

The book picks up steam as Graham grows confident as an independent, accomplished executive. She discusses the Post's role in the Pentagon Papers trials, the Watergate expose and a strike by the press-workers' union, which the paper ultimately won. Just when she seemed to be getting the hang of running the company, she decided to retire.

While this is not a personal history, it is a unique view of history being made, as one of the nation's most important newspapers reached that pinnacle. It's also a fascinating glimpse at how the super-rich live. Graham was the guest of honor at writer Truman Capote's famous Black and White Ball.

Other interesting anecdotes include the revelation that reporter Carl Bernstein almost didn't get the Watergate assignment that made him famous: He was about to be fired for irresponsibility.

There's President Reagan on his hands and knees picking up ice cubes from a spilled drink at a party she threw. There's Phil Graham hoping no one would see him sneaking into Douglas Dillon's house through a window to tell him that President Kennedy wanted him to run the Treasury.

In fact, there's so much of value and interest here it seems silly to quibble over what isn't included - even if it is the author.

· Curt Schleier is a River Vale N.J. reviewer. top of page

The Washington Post Company's Businesses top of page

Found at http://www.washpostco.com/co_biz.htm on July 3, 1998


The Washington Post - 809,340 daily and 1,129,519 Sunday - 20 foreign, 5 national, and 13 metropolitan news bureaus
The Washington Post National Weekly Edition
The Washington Post Writers Group - 27 writers-cartoonists - material printed in newspapers and magazines throughout USA.-
The Herald
The Gazette Newspapers 21 newspapers and 11 military publications
Robinson Terminal Warehouse Corporation
Capital Fiber Inc.


Newsweek - 3,100,000 circulation
Newsweek International - 767,000 circulation
Newsweek Nihon Ban
Newsweek Hankuk Pan
Newsweek En Espanol
Post-Newsweek Business Information, Inc.(formerly TechNews, Inc.)


Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc.
WDIV-Detroit - 1,771,950 television households
KPRC-Houston - 1,595,350 television households
WPLG-Miami-Ft. Lauderdale - 1,363,260 television households
WKMG-Orlando - 1,021,970 television households
KSAT-San Antonio - 641,740 television households
WJXT-Jacksonville - 493,160 television households


Cable One (635,000 subscribers in 18 states)

Other Businesses

Digital Ink
Parent's Guide to Children's Software '97
Kaplan Educational Centers
Legi-Slate, Inc.
State Capital Strategies
Moffet, Larson & Johnson, Inc.


International Herald Tribune - average daily paid circulation of 200,000 in over 180 countries
Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service - A supplier of spot news, features, and commentary to more than 600 clients in 47 countries
Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited

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