United Media
FormerlyUnited Media Enterprises
Company typePrint syndication
Founded1978; 46 years ago (1978), as the merger of United Features and NEA
Defunct2011; 13 years ago (2011)
FateMerged into Universal Uclick
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois, United States
Serviceseditorial columns and comic strips
ParentE. W. Scripps Company
DivisionsNewspaper Enterprise Association (est. 1902)
United Feature Syndicate (est. 1919)

United Media was a large editorial column and comic strip newspaper syndication service based in the United States, owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, that operated from 1978 to 2011. It syndicated 150 comics and editorial columns worldwide. Its core businesses were the United Feature Syndicate and the Newspaper Enterprise Association.


E. W. Scripps started his newspaper career in the 1885, and owned 22 newspapers by 1910. In 1897, he created two companies, the Scripps-McRae Press Association and the Scripps News Association. In 1907, he combined a number of news providers into United Press Associations as a rival to Associated Press.

On June 2, 1902, the new Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), based in Cleveland, Ohio, started as a news report service for different Scripps-owned newspapers. It started selling content to non-Scripps owned newspapers in 1907, and by 1909, it became a more general syndicate, offering comics, pictures and features as well.[1] At that time, it had some 100 features available.[2]

United Feature Syndicate was formed in 1919.[3] It became a dominant player in the syndication market in the early 1930s. In March 1930, United Features acquired the Metropolitan Newspaper Service (ostensibly from the Bell Syndicate).[4][2] And in late February 1931, Scripps acquired the New York World, which controlled the syndication arms of the Pulitzer company: World Feature Service[2] and Press Publishing Co.[4] (which unlike other syndicates were owned by the paper rather than being separate entities). An April 1933 article in Fortune described United Feature as one of the "Big Four" American syndicates (along with King Features Syndicate, Chicago Tribune Syndicate, and the Bell Syndicate).[5] United Features and NEA both became successful distributors of newspaper comics in the 1930s.[6]

In 1972, United Features Syndicate acquired and absorbed the North American Newspaper Alliance and the Bell-McClure Syndicate into its operations.[7]

In May 1978 Scripps merged United Features and NEA to form United Media Enterprises (UM).[8][9]

In 1992, United Media donated the Robert Roy Metz Collection of 83,034 original cartoons by 113 cartoonists to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

In 1994, Jim Davis's company, Paws, Inc., purchased the rights to Garfield (including the strips from 1978 to 1993) from United Feature. The strip is currently distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, while rights for the strip remain with Paws.

On June 3, 2010, United Media sold their licensing arm, along with the rights to Peanuts and Dilbert, to Iconix Brand Group.[10][11]

The Scripps Howard News Service (SHNS) (established 1917) was part of United Media; SHNS went defunct in 2013.[12]

On February 24, 2011, United Media struck a distribution deal with Universal Uclick (now known as Andrews McMeel Syndication) for syndication of the company's 150 comic strip and news features, which became effective on June 1 of that year.[13][14] Of the more than 40 comic strips United Media transferred to Universal Uclick, about 75% of them were United Features strips (as opposed to Newspaper Enterprise Association strips). While United Media effectively ceased to exist,[15] Scripps still maintains copyrights and intellectual property rights.[16][17]

From 1999 until its 2011 takeover by Universal Uclick, United Media used the Comics.com domain to promote their existing syndicated strips as well as promote new strips and the burgeoning realm of webcomics. (Comics.com also featured editorial cartoons, The New Yorker cartoons, Snoopy.com, and Dilbert.com.) The site, however, never worked the way it was planned. As cartoonist and former UM editor of acquisitions and development Ted Rall wrote, Comics.com "was the laughingstock of the industry, full of Javascript gone wild, 404 errors and broken widgets."[18] According to Rall, outgoing UM President Doug Stern told his employees "that part of the failure of UM was directly attributable to the company's inability to make money online, that they had tried their best but failed."[18] Many involved with the company said that was not the case. Universal Uclick/Andrews McMeel Syndication took over the Comics.com domain, which currently redirects to GoComics.com, the web's largest catalog of syndicated newspaper strips, political cartoons and webcomics, offering free new content every day.

Syndicated comic strips before June 1, 2011

Newspaper Enterprise Association

United Feature Syndicate

Syndicated editorial cartoons

Webcomics and web animations

These were published on United Media's site and/or Comics.com; many moved to GoComics:

Syndicated columns

Syndicated puzzles

Licensed properties


  1. ^ Monmonier, Mark S. (1989). Maps with the news: the development of American journalistic cartography. University of Chicago Press. pp. 80–83. ISBN 978-0-226-53411-4. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Hudson, Frederick; McClung Lee, Alfred (2000). American journalism, 1690–1940, Volume 4. Luther Mott, Frank. Routledge. pp. 589–590. ISBN 978-0-415-22892-3. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  3. ^ Booker, M. Keith. "United Feature Syndicate," in Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (ABC-CLIO, 2014), p. 399.
  4. ^ a b "United Feature Syndicate Buys Metropolitan Service From Elser: Both Firms Will Retain Separate Identities, With Elser Remaining as Vice-President — Monte Bourjaily to Direct Both Organizations," Editor & Publisher (March 15, 1930). Archived at "News of Yore 1930: Another Syndicate Gobbled," Stripper's Guide (May 4, 2010).
  5. ^ Jeet Heer, "Crane's Great Gamble", in Roy Crane, Buz Sawyer: 1, The War in the Pacific. Seattle, Wash. : Fantagraphics Books, 2011. ISBN 9781606993620
  6. ^ Ron Goulart, The Adventurous Decade. Arlington House, New Rochelle, N.Y. 1975. ISBN 9780870002526 (p. 26-7,93-5).
  7. ^ Astor, Dave. "Goldberg To Retire From United Media," Archived December 7, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Editor & Publisher (December 17, 2001): "The executive joined United in 1972 when it bought Bell McClure Syndicate and North American Newspaper Alliance, where Goldberg was president."
  8. ^ "News Features Services Merge As United Media". United Press International. May 19, 1978. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  9. ^ "United Features consolidates," The Comics Journal #44 (Jan. 1979), p. 17.
  10. ^ Inc., Iconix Brand Group. "Iconix Brand Group Closes Acquisition of Peanuts". www.prnewswire.com (Press release). Retrieved March 17, 2018. ((cite press release)): |last= has generic name (help)
  11. ^ "Iconix Forms Peanuts Worldwide - License! Global". www.licensemag.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  12. ^ Scripps Howard News Service Will Close Down After 96 Years, Bloomberg News, November 13, 2013. Accessed April 5, 2015.
  13. ^ Universal Uclick to Provide Syndicate Services for United Media, PR Newswire, February 24, 2011.
  14. ^ "United Media Outsources Content to Universal Uclick,"[permanent dead link], Editor & Publisher (April 29, 2011). [dead link]
  15. ^ Cavna, Michael (July 1, 2011). "RIP, UNITED MEDIA: A century-old syndicate closes its historic doors". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Universal Uclick to Provide Syndicate Services for United Media, PR Newswire, February 24, 2011. Accessed February 24, 2011.
  17. ^ "United Media Outsources Content to Universal Uclick,"[permanent dead link] Editor & Publisher (April 29, 2011). Accessed April 29, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ a b MacDonald, Heidi. "Universal Uclick to syndicate United's comic strips," The Beat (February 24, 2011).
  19. ^ Gardner, Alan. "FIRST LOOK AT SIGNE WILKINSON’S “FAMILY TREE," The Daily Cartoonist (December 3, 2007).
  20. ^ Astor, Dave. "Comic Creator and ‘Cartoonist Profiles’ Editor Jud Hurd Dies," Archived November 13, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Editor & Publisher (September 19, 2005).
  21. ^ McGarry entry, Lambiek's Comiclopedia. Accessed Dec. 21, 2018.
  22. ^ E&P Staff. "‘World of Wonder’ Celebrates a Decade in Syndication," Archived November 10, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Editor & Publisher (September 2, 2010).
  23. ^ "Boy on a Stick and Slither goes to Comics.com". Comics Beat. April 25, 2007.
  24. ^ "Mr. Futz". Comics.com. United Media. Archived from the original on October 7, 2001. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  25. ^ Pastis, Stephan, Sgt. Piggy's Lonely Hearts Club Comic (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2004; ISBN 0-7407-4807-6), p.5: "Pearls was supposed to launch in newspapers on January 7, 2002. But just prior to the launch, the Washington Post bought the strip and wanted to start running it a week early. Thus, this week of strips [dated beginning 12/31] was quickly put together just for the Post, and this [12/31] strip became the first Pearls strip, published in exactly one paper".