HUNTINGTON — Through it all — the good, the bad, the great and the tragic — The Herald-Dispatch has been there.
The publication celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2009.
The Herald-Dispatch’s roots go back to 1871 when O.G. Chase arrived in the Huntington area on a riverboat. Supplied with printing equipment, he eventually acquired a lot on Second Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets, where he maintained an office for more than a year.
Known as The Independent, Chase's publication merged in 1875 with the Cabell Press, and the new publication was called the Weekly Advertiser. When it later became a daily paper, the name was condensed to The Advertiser.
A rival daily, The Huntington Herald, was launched in 1890 by the Republican Party and was later sold to an Ohio law firm. A prominent printer, Col. Joseph Harvey Long, arrived in Huntington in 1893 with the sole intention of purchasing The Huntington Herald. With $100 down and a balance of $1,700, he accomplished his goal.
Long published The Huntington Herald for 18 months, sold it and purchased The Advertiser. The acquisition marked the beginning of the modern-day era in the history of The Herald-Dispatch.
By 1902, Long had moved The Advertiser from its Ninth Street location to Fourth Avenue. At about the same time, Floyd S. Chapman, a future several-term mayor of Huntington, became the city editor of The Advertiser.
Shortly thereafter, he resigned to take charge of the newsroom at The Herald. In 1904, he left The Herald to begin his own newspaper, The Huntington Dispatch.
History had shown that the Huntington area would support two newspapers, but not three. As a result, The Herald and The Dispatch merged in 1909 to become The Herald-Dispatch. The first issue was published Jan. 17, 1909.
Meanwhile, The Advertiser relocated to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 10th Street (the current home of The Herald-Dispatch) because it had outgrown its headquarters on Fourth Avenue. Negotiations to merge The Advertiser and The Herald-Dispatch eventually ensued. As a result, The Huntington Publishing Co. was formed in 1927 with Long as president.
The staff of The Herald-Dispatch moved into The Advertiser's building, but the two staffs remained separate and competitive. Many readers of The Herald-Dispatch likely remember The Advertiser, an afternoon newspaper that ceased publication in August 1979.
In the 1960s, the Huntington Publishing Co. became a pioneer in journalism when its newsroom became the first in the nation to install a Hendrix Cathode Ray Tube editing complex by which copy was prepared for typesetting electronically.
In November 1971, the Huntington Publishing Co. became part of Gannett Co. Inc.
Through the years, The Herald-Dispatch has won numerous Gannett and Associated Press awards, as well as other national and regional awards.
In 1998, it won one of Gannett's most prestigious awards, its top Freedom of Information Award, for its coverage of the Fletcher case and the Scottown, Ohio, fireworks store fire investigation.
Its coverage of the Fletcher case, which involved a Huntington couple wrongly jailed in St. Vincent on a murder charge, also won the National Press Club's award for foreign and diplomatic reporting, among numerous other national awards. The couple was subsequently freed.
After 36 years of ownership by newspaper giant Gannett Co., The Herald-Dispatch, along with three other daily newspapers, was sold to GateHouse Media, Inc. for $410 million. That sale became final May 7, 2007.
After only four months under GateHouse Media, The Herald-Dispatch again was sold — this time to a local company, Champion Industries, for $77 million. That deal was finalized Sept. 15, 2007.
Champion is a commercial printer, business forms manufacturer, and office products and furniture supplier that serves regional markets east of the Mississippi River.