San Antonio Light

By: Frances Donecker

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: July 1, 1995

The San Antonio Light, a daily afternoon and Sunday morning newspaper, was published by the San Antonio Light Publishing Company. The original appearance of the paper was heralded in an occasional paper called the San Antonio Surprise, a tiny four-page sheet which explained the necessity for a lively daily devoted to the issues and interests of San Antonio and reported that "the Evening Light would be visible January 1, 1881 . . . and will grow brighter and stronger with each issue." Actually, the Evening Light's first issue did not appear until January 20, 1881. It was first published as a daily, except Sunday, at the office of the Texas Sun, which was published by A. W. Gifford and James Pearson Newcomb. In 1883 Newcomb transferred management of the paper to Gifford and Tom B. Johnson. The plant was moved to an office on Commerce Street, and the paper became the Daily Light, with three Johnson brothers doing all of the work. In 1890 the paper was described as the only Republican daily in Texas and as a newsy and ably-edited journal. In 1906 the publishing company was sold to E. B. Chandler, and in 1909 the Daily Light Publishing Company bought the San Antonio Gazette, after which until 1911 the paper was known as the Light and Gazette. Edward S. (Tex) O'Reilly, author, soldier of fortune, and adventurer, was at one time managing editor. In 1911 Harrison L. Beach and Charles S. Diehl, veteran correspondents of national standing, moved to San Antonio and bought the Light and Gazette, which was subsequently known once more as the Light. They installed leased wire news service and published the first full market reports in a San Antonio paper. The Light became liberal-Democratic in its political views, and under the Beach and Diehl management circulation increased from 11,000 to 25,000 copies daily. In 1924, however, William Randolph Hearst bought the Light and instituted Hearst policies, and by 1945 the circulation was approximately 70,000. In the post-World War II years the San Antonio Light attained circulation leadership in the city under publisher B. J. Horner and managing editor N. Dwight Allison. Following their retirement in 1967, William B. Bellamy was named managing editor, and Frank A. Bennack was publisher. In 1972 the Light, with a daily circulation of 122,292 and a Sunday circulation of 160,905, was one of the leading Hearst newspapers in the United States. By 1987, however, it was operating on a deficit. Under George B. Irish, the paper continued to be published in the early 1990s, with a circulation of 186,777. On October 6, 1992, the Hearst corporation, after purchasing rival paper, the San Antonio Express-News, announced that it would close the San Antonio Light if it cold not find a buyer for the property. At the time the paper employed over 600 people including 134 editorial staff. Shortly after the announcement, the paper closed.

Charles Merritt Barnes, Combats and Conquests of Immortal Heroes (San Antonio: Guessaz and Ferlet, 1910). William Corner, San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History (San Antonio: Bainbridge and Corner, 1890). Green Peyton [Wertenbacker], San Antonio (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1946). San Antonio Light, Anniversary Edition, February 25, 1932. Texas Newspaper Directory (Austin: Texas Press Service, 1991).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Frances Donecker, “San Antonio Light,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995