Straus Newspapers is a private family-owned company that traces its roots to 1943 when Nathan Straus, formerly a New York State Senator and administrator of the U.S. Housing Authority in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration, purchased WMCA Radio (570 AM). Under his stewardship, WMCA became well known for its editorializing and public service campaigns.
R. Peter Straus, his son, took the helm of the radio station in 1959 at the age of 35. During the more than 25 years R. Peter Straus and his wife, Ellen Sulzberger Straus, ran WMCA, it "pioneered public service radio in New York," according to the New York Times. WMCA was the first station to call for Richard Nixon's resignation, the first station to ban cigarette advertising, and the first to accept ads from abortion rights advocates and makers of contraceptives.
In late 1950s and 1960s WMCA, known as the Good Guys, played rock n roll and was the #1 rated station in New York. The station's signature yellow smiley face became a pop icon.
Ellen Straus founded Call For Action in 1963, a telephone referral service that put the power of the media to work for people who had problems with government agencies, corporations and landlords. After investigation, if Call For Action couldn't get the problem resolved, the radio station would air a documentary or editorial highlighting the difficulty. Within ten years Call For Action was operating in fifty cities.
In 1964 R. Peter Straus ran Robert Kennedy's successful campaign for U.S. Senate. During the Lyndon Johnson administration Mr. Straus served as assistant administrator for Africa for the Agency for International Development. Under President Jimmy Carter he served as director of the Voice of America.
In 1986 the radio station was sold and the family acquired The Warwick Advertiser, The Photo News, The Advertiser and The Vernon News. The Warwick Advertiser has published continuously since 1866. Leonard Cox was the first editor and he announced it as "A Local Family Newspaper, devoted to Home Interests and General Literature." Later owners included Hiram and James Tate (for 77 years), Ed Klein, and Jim and Gayle Tunnell.
Since the acquisition of the newspapers, Jeanne Straus, now the company's president, has run them. She oversaw the purchase of The Sparta Independent and The Pike County Courier and the launch of new newspapers: The Township Journal, The Chronicle and The West Milford Messenger. In 2011, the company started publishing Dirt, a magazine covering the local "green scene." In 2013, she oversaw the acquisition of Manhattan's leading weekly newspapers including Our Town, The West Side Spirit, Our Town Downtown, The Chelsea Clinton News and The Westsider.
Jeanne Straus is the daughter of R. Peter Straus and Ellen Sulzberger Straus. Following in the long and illustrious tradition of her family, Ms. Straus is an activist in community service and a leader in the communication industry. She began her career working at The White House News Summary as an editorial assistant and then worked for the Associated Press. She joined the family business in 1980, working in news operations and eventually as Program Director of WMCA. Since assuming the leadership of the newspapers, her other roles have included serving on the board and as president of the New York Press Association; serving on the executive committee and as president of the New York Press Association Foundation; as founder and president of the Community Reporting Alliance; and as founder and vice president of New York Cares, the largest volunteer organization in New York City.
The family tradition at the company continues to a fourth generation. Becca Tucker, a great-granddaughter of Nathan Straus and niece of Jeanne Straus is the editor of Dirt Magazine. Before joining the company she worked as a reporter for The New York Sun and Manhattan Media, and as the managing editor of the magazine New York Family. Ms. Tucker has won numerous awards for her writing and reporting for Straus News, including the prestigious National Education Writers Association Award in 2010.
Purchase of Manhattan newspapers: Our Town, The West Side Spirit, Our Town Downtown, The Chelsea Clinton News, The Westsider
Launch of dirt magazine
Purchase of The Pike County Courier
Launch of The West Milford Messenger
Launch of The Chronicle
Launch of The Township Journal
Merger of The Vernon News and The Advertiser to create The Advertiser News (North Edition) and the Advertiser-News (South Edition)
Purchase of The Sparta Independent
Sale of WMCA; purchase of The Warwick Advertiser, The Photo News, The Advertiser and The Vernon News
Ellen Straus founds Call For Action
WMCA Good Guys is rated #1 radio station in New York
Nathan Straus purchases WMCA radio station
The Warwick Advertiser (acquired by Straus News in 1986) is launched