About Disney's Newsies
The history of Newsies can be traced to long before the musical opened on Broadway. The 2012 stage musical is an
adaptation of the 1992 movie, which itself traces its roots all the way back to 1899 when a group of newsies banded
together to fight for their rights.
Based on a True Story
Newsies is based on the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899. The New York newsies – boys and girls who sold newspapers on the
street – went up against two newspaper publishers, Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and William Randolph Hearst of the
New York Journal, to fight for the chance to earn a livable wage.
The Spanish-American War made New Yorkers hungry for headlines, and circulation boomed as a result. Once the war ended,
people were less inclined to buy newspapers – war was bad for the world, but great for the newspaper business. The strike
was the result of the newspaper publishers refusing to lower the newsies’ cost-per-paper back down to the pre-war prices. The
newsies were not willing to pay more for their papers to make up for a lack of headlines, so they decided to strike – their goal
was to make the newspaper tycoons treat them as legitimate members of the business.
The strike lasted two weeks, from July 20 to August 2, 1899. The newsies eventually came to a compromise with the
publishers: The price would stay the same, but the publishers would buy back any papers that the newsies couldn’t sell. The
newsies’ strike is a significant moment in history: It is one of the first strikes that was carried out by children and it ended in
compromise. The kids succeeded! - Taken from the Newsies Production Handbook