Dale Genius, the Executive Director of the Louisiana History Museum in Downtown Alexandria, e-mailed me late this afternoon to announce the museum’s newest addition: a carefully-preserved, first edition copy of The Town Talk from the year of its creation, 1883.

It may be hard to believe, but The Town Talk is one of the nation’s oldest, continuously operating newspapers, though, to be fair, The Hartford Courant, which is still in publication, has The Town Talk beat by over a century. As documented in the book The Talk of the Town, The Town Talk was considered an innovator in newspaper publication during the mid-20th century, and although it is now the corporate property of Gannett, The Town Talk was owned and published by local residents, primarily members and relatives of the McCormick family (no relation to the current Town Talk reporter, Bret McCormick), for over 100 years.

Like many others, I hope, one day, it will return to local ownership. In my opinion, the paper is currently being bled dry; what was once an innovative newspaper is now just yet another corporately-owned asset under the direction of corporate stakeholders, instead of community stakeholders.

Anyway, check this out (click to zoom):

7 thoughts

  1. Newspapers are already obselete. They continue to exist because the people who work there need jobs, and ad delivery mechanisms for advertisers who cannot figure out the current date.

    I say this with a fondness for newspapers. As a kid, particularly in the late 70s, prior to cable television, a “newspaper” was the best way to get more news stories, and certainly more detailed news stories than the local/national television news broadcasts. Today, they are nothing more than an anachronism. Certain super powerful papers (NYT, WSJ as examples) will still exist as an entity, but not a physical newspaper. I honestly cannot see them operating, printing actual physical newspapers in anything like substantial numbers in 5 years.

    The last company that made buggy whips – they probably made the best gosh darn buggy whip you ever saw. But, they’re out of business now, too.

  2. Thanks for the reminder that The Town Talk was founded by local businessmen and developed not only into a vital voice within the community but a once powerful voice in the state, as well. This is not meant as a slight to the handful of rank-and-file editors, reporters, photographers and advertising reps that remain there. They work under intense corporate pressure and do the best that they can with what little they have. But it’s also true that Gannett bought The Town Talk in 2000 and started placing its henchmen near the end of 2003. Imagine, it took 120 to build the paper and only seven years to destroy it. Seven years. Very sad, indeed.

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