Herbert Muschel, founder of PR Newswire and a pioneer in the media industry, died on November 1st at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. He was 85.
Mr. Muschel was born and raised on Manhattan's Lower East Side. He graduated from New York University where he majored in journalism, and later served in the Merchant Marine in World War II as a radio operator and purser. This experience nurtured his interest in communications and resulted in a long career of groundbreaking inventions.
Early on in his communications career, Mr. Muschel pioneered the publishing and wide distribution -- in booklet form -- of the CBS radio program "Invitation to Learning," a unique intellectual forum that featured well-known celebrities in roundtable discussions on classic and popular literature. Mr. Muschel is also credited as one of the founders of a television guide in New York that allowed consumers to have a ready roadmap to television programming, including times, channels and snapshot summaries.
In 1954, he pioneered the commercial newswire industry with the creation of PR Newswire, a cutting edge service that distributed corporate financial news and features at a time when the Federal Communications Commission allowed only AT&T and Western Union to send printed messages to a third person. With this direct-to-the-newsroom service, press releases were treated as breaking news for the first time.
"Herb Muschel was a unique individual who not only knew how to 'think outside the box,' but also knew how to teach others to maximize their talents and abilities," said David Steinberg, former New York Herald Tribune business writer who joined Muschel at PR Newswire in 1963. "He was a pragmatist and an idealist who treated his friends and employees as family." Steinberg was CEO of PR Newswire from 1975-92.
In the early years, PR Newswire delivered news releases verbatim from public relations agencies, corporations and other sources to 12 major news points in New York over a private teleprinter network. During a general newspaper strike in New York in the early 1960s, the teleprinter circuit expanded to papers in Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh. In 1971, the company was sold to Western Union Corporation, operating as a wholly owned subsidiary until it was acquired in 1982 by United Business Media plc of London.
Today, almost 50 years later, PR Newswire provides electronic distribution, targeting and measurement services on behalf of some 40,000 customers worldwide -- including more than 50% of publicly traded companies in the United States -- who seek to reach the news media, the investment community and the general public with up-to-the-minute, full-text news developments. PR Newswire has offices in fourteen countries and routinely sends its customers' news to outlets in 135 countries in 27 languages. Utilizing the latest in communications technology, PR Newswire content is considered a mainstay among news reporters and investors and private individuals.