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The Newport plain talk. : (Newport, Tenn.) 1909-1939
Place of publication:
Newport, Tenn.
Geographic coverage:
  • Newport, Cocke, Tennessee  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Bruce I. Susong
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1909.
Semiweekly <Jan. 2, 1923-Feb. 17, 1939>
  • English
  • Cocke County (Tenn.)--Newspapers.
  • Newport (Tenn.)--Newspapers.
  • Tennessee--Cocke County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01262672
  • Tennessee--Newport.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01229015
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 10, no. 21 (Nov. 25, 1909).
  • Merged with: Cocke County tribune, to form: Plain talk and tribune.
sn 89058216
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The Newport plain talk. March 9, 1911 , Image 1


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The Newport Plain Talk

Politician William C. Anderson established the Plain Talk in Newport, Tennessee, in the spring of 1900 in order to "do some plain talking around here." This was in response to his earlier unsuccessful bid for renomination as the Republican congressional candidate. Anderson incorporated his financial interest in the newspaper as the Plain Talk Publishing Company and served as the editor of the newspaper for the first two years of its existence. In 1909, the town's name was added to the masthead. The Republican weekly served Cocke County, a mostly agricultural region near the Great Smoky Mountains. Newport was home to a bank, several mills, a tannery, and a lumber company, and offered its residents two weekly newspapers in addition to the Plain Talk: the Democratic Newport Times, which was established in 1895, and the Republican Newport Weekly, which was established in 1884.

The first decade of the Newport Plain Talk was somewhat tumultuous as the paper passed through the hands of several owners and editors, including William C. Anderson and his sons Hubert and Robert (1900-06), M.A. Roadman and Hubert C. Anderson (1906-08), M.A. Roadman (1908-09), and, once again, Hubert and Robert Anderson (1909). In 1909, publisher Bruce I. Susong acquired the Newport Plain Talk. Fleeting ownership and editorship were typical of newspapers in the 19th and 20th centuries, and Newport saw the rise and fall of many publications, among them the Newport Times, the Newport Herald, and the Cocke County Banner. But the Newport Plain Talk proved the most resilient, surviving and thriving into the 21st century.

While the Plain Talk claimed to be Independent, Bruce Susong actively backed Republican candidates. His efforts in support of Benjamin W. Hooper for governor of Tennessee were the subject of a Saturday Evening Post article in April 1911. On May 13, 1914, Mrs. Thomas H. (Lena) Campbell became editor and owner of the Plain Talk. She and her husband had previously been associated with the Newport Times. In Susong's "Parting Word," he explained that under the new owner, the paper will "now serve the Democracy of the county." Under the heading, "Howdy-Do," Mrs. Campbell's inaugural editorial outlined the new Democratic path the paper would take, including changes to the type of ads that would be permitted, "We have already cancelled all whiskey advertisements and shall cancel all patent medicine readers and other objectionable advertising." She further announced that, "The Plain Talk does not believe that women should be allowed the privilege of voting, but it is heartily in sympathy with the recent law which allows women to do business in their own name." Within a few years, Mr. Campbell's name was listed as editor, and he remained in the role until the mid-1920s when Robert P. Sulte, Sr. purchased the paper. The Newport Plain Talk served as a powerful voice supporting the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Like many newspaper owners in the New South, Campbell championed the development of Newport and the surrounding area, and realized the potential of the park to bring tourism and industry to the region.

In 1939, the Plain Talk merged with the Cocke County Tribune to form the Plain Talk and Tribune. The paper underwent several name changes over the following decades. In 2015, the Newport Plain Talk continues to serve Cocke County residents (in print and online), providing community news, including special features such as its annual Smoky Mountain Home Place supplement to preserve the history of the region.

Provided by: University of Tennessee