From our Newspapers
Clarksburg Exponent Telegram 70th Anniversary
Photos of Goss Press
- one of the oldest operating presses in the country, dating back to the early 1900's
Newspaper notes 70th
anniversary of merger
By GAIL MARSH
A record heat wave had hit the area, Clara Bow was all the rage and residents were getting ready for the Fourth of July celebration. It was July 1, 1927, and big changes were taking place in the newspaper industry in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
The front page of the Sunday, July 3, Clarksburg Telegram held a center-column announcement among its 20 or so stories, telling its readers about the formation of Clarksburg Publishing Company. It was a progressive move that would carry the paper forward into the golden age of journalism.
"Along with the formation of the commercial printing division, this was something done to improve the efficiency and economy of the two newspapers," said Cecil B. Highland Jr., president and treasurer of Clarksburg Publishing Company. "I can't tell you all of the background, but I know that J. Hornor Davis and Virgil L. Highland, my father's brother, were the ones who really formed Clarksburg Publishing Company."
According to Dorothy B. Davis' book, "History of Harrison County," the Clarksburg Telegram was begun around the time of the Civil War by Robert S. Northcott. In 1891, the paper was purchased by Nathan Goff Jr., Edwin Maxwell and R.T. Lowndes, among others.
Stockholders Virgil L. Highland, S.C. Denham and C.W. Lynch negotiated the purchase of the Clarksburg Daily Post in 1902 and moved the paper from a small room on West Main Street to the Post publishing plant, making plans to change the paper from a weekly to a daily.
In 1902, Cecil B. Highland joined the paper as a stockholder and for 12 years the paper appeared six days a week. In 1914, the Telegram added a Sunday edition, being printed in the basement of the Empire Bank building. The business and editorial offices were in the Fourth Street building north of the Empire building, with the title of the paper again being the Clarksburg Telegram.
The Clarksburg Exponent first appeared in 1910 as the Culpeper Exponent, so called because Raleigh T. Green, who helped to found it, was from Culpeper, Va. It was a publication of the Exponent Company of which J. Hornor Davis was president. For a time in 1916, the paper was called The Exponent American. The paper was first printed in a building in Glen Elk, and in 1924 the company built the present multi-story structure on Hewes Avenue.
Clarksburg Publishing Company acquired both the daily and the Sunday newspapers in 1927 and issued 1,200 shares of stock to the Exponent Company and 1,800 shares of stock to the Telegram owners. Virgil L. Highland was majority stockholder and his estate and family members eventually acquired most minority interests.
Editors over the years since then have included Wilbur "Red" Swiger, Frank Carpenter, John Howard Martin and Harold G. Springer, before Robert F. Stealey became editor of the Telegramin 1984. On the Exponent side, H.G. Rhawn served until 1940 when Randal L. Strother took over the Exponent. He was succeeded by Edwin M. Sweeney, who served until 1996, when Stealey became the editor for both papers.
According to the July 3, 1927, issue, the paper had a Sunday circulation of 30,000, and the readership of both papers would now receive it each week. The paper was 24 pages and cost five cents. In that edition, a new Essex Super-Six automobile cost $835, Tom Mix was starring in "The Last Trail" at Moore's Opera House, and women were encouraged to buy Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound to improve their health. President Calvin Coolidge was getting ready for his holiday address.
Virgil Highland died in 1930 and Cecil B. Highland Sr. became president of the paper and administrator of his estate. He remained in that position until his death in 1957.
"My father was active with the paper until the moment of his death in 1957. He was signing checks on behalf of the paper at
his desk when he died," Highland said.
Mr. Highland was elected president and general manager of the paper in 1957 and continues to head up the organization 40 years later. He has seen many changes over the years, but the paper withstood the test of time.
"We've had our moments, more or less, of excitement, but things have always gone forward.
"I think newspapers have a promising future. The Internet is an exciting development, but it doesn't take the place of a daily newspaper you can hold or refer to," he said.
The newspaper has recently gone through many big, positive changes, as anyone who has been a faithful reader can attest.
"Of course, in 1996 Terry Horne was appointed the publisher and vice president. We've changed the look of the paper and have added a Monday Exponent, which was a good move," he said.
When asked about upcoming changes, Highland mentioned the acquisition of a new press.
"We need a new press, and if and when we take steps to acquire one, we will also have to construct something to house it. That way we can keep the old one running while the new one is getting ready. Fortunately, we have the real estate adjacent to the building to spread out a good bit," Highland said.
Mr. Horne is enthusiastic not only about the paper, but about working in north central West Virginia.
"I think we are living in the most dynamic area in West Virginia for two reasons. First, because of the high-tech orientation of the I-79 corridor, in which Harrison County is really the key.
"And secondly, the wide array of opportunities in higher education that exist around the area _ from West Virginia University, Fairmont State, Salem and Glenville (colleges). It's a unique environment that no other city in West Virginia has. This is a 'can't-miss' area for the future and for prosperity in West Virginia." the publisher said.
Horne spent 18 years working with corporate newspapers after spending the first few years of his career with family-owned newspapers. "I wanted to get back to my roots," he said.
Horne said he is pleased with the way the newspapers are progressing.
"The future of Clarksburg Publishing Company is certainly bright. We are viewing our business as a marketing and communications company and we anticipate many opportunities for growing our current business and entering other business arenas. We plan a number of business start-ups and are interested in acquisition opportunities that make sense for our company," he said.
"The Highland family ownership has had an excellent reputation in the industry and it was a great opportunity for me to be involved with them in arranging a media company that is located in an area with a bright future.
Horne said they are trying to become a more customer focused company.
"We have attempted to energize our news reporting through both the redesign and also our emphasis on local news. At the same time we have tried to become more service oriented and flexible for our advertising customers.
"In general, we hope our strategy is to listen to our customers, both readers and advertisers, and try to best serve their needs.
Updated July 2, 1997
Home Page Our Newspapers and Services Web Page Publishing and Design
Local News Events Line West Virginia Sports Summary
Let Us know what you think of our web site! Give us Feedback
Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302 USA
Copyright © Clarksburg Publishing Company 1997