International News Service v. Associated Press

248 U.S. 215 (1918)

William Randolph Hearst.

International New Service was founded by William Randolph Hearst, pictured, the notorious billionaire publisher. Hearst was born wealthy, he was the son of a U.S. Senator, but he made his fortune in the newspaper business. Starting with the San Francisco Examiner, Hearst built a media empire covering 28 papers, 18 magazines and several radio and movie companies.*

Hearst was, and still is, controversial. His success was mainly based on the appeal of his sensationalist stories, later known as yellow journalism. He has been accused of jingoism and racism, as well as specifically causing the Spanish-American War. It is rumored that when one of Hearst's photographers in Cuba sent word that a war was unlikely, his reply reportedly read: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war." Some academics, however, doubt that this exchange ever took place.

Hearst married his wife, Veronica Wilson, in 1903, the year he entered Congress. During World War I, he (and his newspapers) vehemently opposed the British Empire. This attitude lead to INS's ban from reporting on the front lines, which lead to the copying of AP wire reports at issue in this case. In the late 1920's Hearst built his famous estate, Hearst Castle. He then fell in love with another woman, actress Marion Davis, and separated from his wife. He set up a movie studio specifically to produce and distribute movies with her in the starring role. In the early 1930's, Hearst was accused of being pro-Nazi, especially after he hosted the mistress of Benito Mussolini when she toured the United States. He is also accused of conspiring with DuPont Chemicals to criminalize the production of hemp, but there are good reasons to disbelieve this conspiracy theory.

In the early 1940's, Orson Wells filmed his masterpiece, Citizen Kane, which was a thinly disguised biography of Hearst. He took offense to the movie's portrayal of Marion Davis, and expended massive amounts of money and effort to block its release. He failed, and the money he spent combined with the effects of the Great Depression forced Hearst to sell off most of his empire. Wells also suffered from the dispute, and was unable to raise enough money to produce a film like Citizen Kane ever again.

The Associated Press continues to operate today, but Hearst's INS merged with United Press International (UPI) in 1959. UPI passed through several owners before it was bought by the Unification Church, which is sometimes derisively known as the Moonies after its founder Sun Myung Moon.