For old newspaper hands in Indiana, the scoop Thursday in The Indianapolis News about how Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) used his family's clout to get into the National Guard was one of the strongest signals yet that the era of the late newspaper tycoon Eugene C. Pulliam has finally ended.

Pulliam, Quayle's grandfather who owned and dominated the News along with six other newspapers in Indiana and Arizona until his death 13 years ago, was the kind of newspaperman who regularly displayed his feelings for his friends and criticism of his enemies on his papers' front pages.

His son, Eugene S. Pulliam -- Dan Quayle's uncle and one of three people who control the Pulliam newspaper chain -- runs the business differently. As publisher of the News, he endorsed the paper's revelations that Quayle got help getting in the guard from a former Pulliam editor who was also a retired National Guard commander.

"We're not involved in cover-ups," said Pulliam, who is publisher of the Indianapolis papers. "Danny wouldn't want it that way."

Longtime readers of the paper say that when Quayle's maternal grandfather was still alive, the Pulliam chain -- now called Central Newspapers, Inc. -- would not have been shy about protecting and promoting the grandson who seems to share many of the old man's conservative views.

"When I first started running for office, elected first in 1964, The Indianapolis Star was the brochure for my opponent," said Rep. Andrew Jacobs Jr. (D-Ind.). "But in the manner of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper has become what is normally defined in the dictionary as a newspaper since he died."

Pat Murphy, publisher of The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette, said this week: "The papers today are a lot different. They hire and recruit a very diverse work force. We're no longer the two-fisted crusading publisher, that's no longer our style."

Friday's editorial page of The Arizona Republic, for example, could not be considered soft on the question of Quayle's Vietnam experience. The headline was: "Where was Dan?" The editorial noted that his family, which owned the Republic as well as newspapers in Indiana, was "not without influence" when it came to getting someone in the National Guard.

"In short, things do not look too good for Mr. Quayle, and if the ugly suspicions prove to be true, Mr. Bush should have no qualms about giving him the boot," the editors added.

This was the same newspaper entity where Eugene C. Pulliam once wrote a famous editorial, on the front page, about John F. Kennedy. It was entitled "You can't buy the White House."

In it, Pulliam said that "The truth is, Jack Kennedy has deliberately set out to make a martyr of himself on the Catholic issue in order to get sympathy and to glamorize himself as a candidate." The Kennedy campaign used the editorial to stir up support in Arizona.

The elder Pulliam, who once said, "I've never been interested in the money I make but the influence we have", wielded the considerable power of his presses with no apologies. He campaigned successfully against a major freeway in Phoenix by running ugly pictures of other freeways in other cities. He helped launch his friend Barry Goldwater into politics in 1949 by giving the young Goldwater an almost daily boost in the Phoenix papers, according to Arizonans.

Their friendship had its ups and downs, but associates say that one of the low periods was the 1964 election when Pulliam supported Lyndon B. Johnson. Russell Pulliam, another grandson who has written a 1984 book called "Gene Pulliam; Last of the Newspaper Titans", recalls that Goldwater was at Pulliam's home one night in 1960 when a reporter from The Arizona Republic called.

The reporter wanted to know about Johnson being nominated as vice president. Goldwater said, "All whores don't wear skirts." Then Pulliam grabbed the phone and ordered the reporter not to print it.

As Pulliam was dying in Phoenix June 23, 1975, he wrote one last word on a scratch pad before he lapsed into a coma. It was: "Goldwater."

By the late 1960's, Eugene S. Pulliam, known as "Gene Jr.," began trying to overrule his father's news judgment.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Eugene C. Pulliam called an editor at the Star and ordered that the story go to the bottom of the front page because, he said, King had been "a rabble-rouser." The younger Gene, who had started out in the newspaper business working for United Press, intervened and had the story restored to the top of the page.

But the elder Pulliam got his way with coverage of Robert F. Kennedy, whose appearance in Indiana to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 went virtually unrecorded in the Indianapolis papers. According to one internal memo to editors, Pulliam wrote: "Give Senator {Eugene} McCarthy full coverage, but this does not apply to a man named Kennedy."

Virulently anti-Communist and even more staunchly antifederal government, Pulliam the elder could surprise those who thought his conservatism knew no bounds. He criticized the John Birch Society as too conspiratorial and lambasted the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, once asking readers: "Is it really possible that there are still some Hoosiers left who are gullible enough to fall for the mumbo-jumbo . . . ?"

Family members say that Dan Quayle, who invoked his grandfather's views at his convention speech, is not like "The Old Man", as he is still called in the Pulliam family circles.

"Dan's personality is not at all like my grandfather's," Russ Pulliam said. Eugene Pulliam "would never consider running for political office. He was asked about it many times, but . . . he had no taste for it and he would not have done well. He spoke and wrote his own mind."

Born in 1889, the founder of the family empire started with $25 in his pocket, given to him by his father, a grocery salesman turned preacher. He purchased his first newspaper in 1912 -- the Atchison (Kans.) Champion.

After buying and selling over the years and building up his equity, he purchased The Indianapolis Star in 1944, the Republic and Gazette in 1946 and The Indianapolis News in 1948. The company he left behind, which also includes The Muncie Star and The Muncie Evening Press and the Vincennes Sun-Commercial in Indiana, is said now to be worth between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion.

When he died, the newspaper empire went into a trust that controls 55 percent of the company stock, according to family members. The trust, which has about 120 stockholders, is controlled by three people: the younger Pulliam, now aged 74; Eugene C.'s third wife, Nina, 81; and his former business manager, William A. Dyer, 85.

Although Central Newspapers owns only seven newspapers, the Pulliam family has spread into the newspaper business around Indiana and Arizona. Russ Pulliam is a columnist at The Indianapolis News. Myrta Pulliam, the present publisher's older daughter, is assistant managing editor of The Indianapolis Star.

Eugene C. Pulliam sold the Huntington (Ind.) Herald-Press to Dan Quayle's parents in 1964, according to Russ Pulliam. James Quayle and Corinne Pulliam Quayle, half-sister of young Gene Pulliam, have retained their ties to the newspaper family. James Quayle, who worked for the Phoenix newspapers before he came to Huntington, is on the board of directors of Central Newspapers.

Quayle, the vice presidential choice of Republican nominee George Bush, is listed as vice president of his parents' newspapers. In his financial disclosure reports for the Senate, Quayle lists more than $500,000 in stock in Central Newspapers, Inc.

Central Newspapers President Frank E. Russell said yesterday that Quayle owned less than one percent of the company stock.

Central Newspapers, which has a total circulation of 836,999 paid readers daily and 963,688 Sunday, considered offering about $700 million in public stock this spring. As a result, the company released some limited information about the tightly-held business, saying that Central Newspapers earned $32.8 million in 1987, 2.7 percent above its 1986 earnings on $402.7 million revenue -- unremarkable profits by newspaper industry standards.

Russell said this week that the stock offering is "in abeyance" because of problems in the stock market. Some newspaper analysts believe that because an Indianapolis politician bought a portion of the stock from one of Quayle's first cousins, the family domination of the company could be ending. There have also been repeated rumors that some news organizations have made unsolicited offers to buy stock in the company.

Russell said, "There has never been a formal offer made to us. The trust that owns 55 percent of the stock virtually prohibits the sale of the papers."

Though the family's flagship papers did not hold back on the Quayle story this week, Quayle's parents' newspaper gave the National Guard story short shrift. The Huntington Herald-Press, an afternoon paper with a circulation of about 8,500 and a staff of seven, gloried in the fact that a hometown boy was coming to his native town to launch the Republican presidential campaign.

Amid the front page stories about Quayle memorabilia and color photos of the candidate, a wire story mentioned the National Guard issue, and not very prominently.

Said editor Michael Perkins, "It's a little difficult for the front page of his hometown newspaper to run a lot of negative stuff."