The company said in a statement that Hearst died at Stanford University Medical Center in California due to complications from a stroke.
The privately held media conglomerate traces its roots back more than 125 years, when Hearst's grandfather took over the San Francisco Examiner. Hearst was a director of the company for more than 50 years, the company said. He succeeded his uncle, Randolph A. Hearst, as board chairman in 1996.
"As chairman of the board, he brought his vast experience and wisdom to bear during a time of incredible growth and helped guide us through periods of enormous change," said Frank A. Bennack Jr., executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of Hearst Corp., in a statement.
Hearst Corp. owns 15 daily newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and San Francisco Chronicle. It also owns a long list of magazines, including Esquire, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan, 29 TV stations and shares in several cable networks.
Hearst was also president of The Hearst Foundation and a director of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
Hearst joined the staff of the Los Angeles Examiner in 1948 and rose to vice-president of Hearst Publishing Co. a decade later. He would become the publisher of several Los Angeles newspapers.
Hearst also enlisted in the Naval Air Corps during World War II and then in the Army during the Korean War, the company said.
One of his sons, George R. Hearst III, is publisher of the Albany Times Union in New York. He is also survived by his wife, Susan Hearst; two other children, Stephen T. Hearst and Erin Hearst Knudsen; his twin sister, Phoebe Hearst Cooke; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.