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The Winchester News
The Winchester News issue hit the streets October 12, 1908. Robert Richard Perry, also editor of Winchester's weekly Sun-Sentinel, created the News with local businessmen William A. Beatty and J.W. Chambers. The three men formed the Winchester News Company and set out to make the Winchester News Clark County's first successful daily.
The News grew monumentally and within its first month boasted a circulation of 1,500--roughly 9 percent of the county’s population. Despite its quick success, the paper had a rather short run. Perry became seriously ill and turned control over to his daughter, Goldie. In early 1912, the family sold out to Lucien Beckner and Carl C. Robbins. The new owners immediately changed the title to the Winchester Sun, also the name of another paper Winchester Sun published from 1881 to about 1903--five years before the founding of the Winchester News. Under the leadership of Perry, Beckner, and Robbins, the Winchester Sun became the leading paper in Winchester and Clark Counties, a fact that still stands.
Perry attributed the News' rapid growth to its ample advertisements, claiming that "no newspaper would be complete without its advertising." Local businesses such as the Winchester Drug Company and Winn Furniture usually inserted an ad in every issue, enabling the News to publish eight full pages of daily copy for over a year. Although advertisements were important, the paper’s content was what attracted the mass of readers. A variety of articles featured local and national news, agricultural reports, sports, and personal and society columns. It also included "K.W.C. Notes," a column devoted to the Kentucky Wesleyan College, a private Methodist school in Winchester from 1888 until 1951. In addition to being one of the first colleges in Kentucky to allow co-education, the college was responsible for the construction and operation of a series of preparatory schools in Winchester, Burnside, Campton, and London. Baseball was one of the most popular sports in early 20th-century Kentucky. The News followed the development of the Blue Grass League that included teams from Lexington, Frankfort, Winchester, and other central Kentucky cities.
It was not all fun and games, however. Foreign competition had all but destroyed the need for hemp, formerly one of the largest cash crops in Clark County. Western beef cattle had significantly limited the county’s once prosperous livestock industry as well. Farmers were forced to diversify and burley tobacco was the answer. However, Clark County farmers, like many in Kentucky and Tennessee, were terrorized in 1906-1908 by Night Riders, who aggressively promoted the local pooling of crops to raise tobacco prices and frequently attacked farmers unwilling to join the pool. The Night Riders burned barns, destroyed fields, and even murdered some farmers and their families. Two lawyers who had openly denounced the "lawless element" were assassinated. The News covered it all.
Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY