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Editorial: Newspaper, community have a shared history

Jan. 16, 2009 @ 11:43 PM

On Sunday morning, Jan. 17, 1909, the first edition of The Herald-Dispatch appeared on the streets of Huntington -- 100 years ago today.

It was by no means the area's first newspaper. The roots of this company go all the way back to 1871 when the weekly Independent started in Guyandotte, the same year that the city of Huntington was chartered.

Over the next 30 years, a number of newspapers made their debut and changed hands, including the Huntington Advertiser, which began daily publication in 1889.

When the Herald and the Dispatch merged in 1909, Huntington was a bustling city of about 30,000 with quite a bright future. Over the next decades, the city would grow dramatically, and the newspaper grew with it, merging with the Advertiser in 1927 to form a company that not only expanded the publications and their reach but also launched one of the region's first television stations.

As we look back on the past 100 years, it is difficult to separate the history of The Herald-Dispatch from the history of Huntington and the Tri-State. As our special commemorative section today shows, the newspaper and the region have a shared memory of triumphs and tragedies, good news and bad.

The historic pages featured in the special section -- and dozens more online -- provide a window to each era of that history.

During those past 10 decades, not only did the look and technology of newspapers change, but so did the stories, styles, interests and prices. That first edition in 1909 featured an advertisement for men's fine winter suits for $11 to $15 at Sam Gideon's store.

Today, we have a much more complex media environment that delivers news and advertising information ever more quickly and in ways no one in 1909 could have imagined -- from Web pages seen around the world to sports updates on your cell phone.

And yet some things change very little.

Just as our edition today, those pages in 1909 carried stories about the hopes and aspirations for a new president-elect, although his name was William Taft instead of Barrack Obama. Editorials urged improvements in mine safety and rail lines, and the pages were filled with notices of local meetings, community events, obituaries, employment opportunities and great deals at local stores.

So while so many things have changed, our mission has not. Our goal is still to provide comprehensive local news coverage and advertising information every day, explore the needs of our community and champion the ideas and efforts that will make the Tri-State and our world a better place in which to live.

You may be reading this on the printed page just down the street or in an electronic version a thousand miles away, but our bond and appreciation are the same.

Thank you, readers and customers, for the past 100 years, and we hope you will continue to let us serve you for many years to come.

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