Among the things PM lacked that audiences have come to expect in a newspaper were advertising—not simply a digest—and many of the elements classified by Wilbur Schramm as “immediate reward” items, such as entertainment features, comics, and certain kinds of news, among them human interest items. PM, however, tried to offer a heavy fare of “delayed reward” items; public affairs news and other items generally appealing to a well-educated—and therefore limited—audience. Conventional mass circulation papers contain both, but have a greater proportion of immediate reward items. By the time PM changed its formula to the extent of taking advertising and adding comics and other features it was too late.

The story of PM indicates that there was not a mass public—however much we may regret it—for the kind of newspaper envisioned by its founders.

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Lewis Donohew was a professor of communications and journalism at the University of Kentucky for nearly 35 years.