“We Are Passing Through A Metamorphosis From The Old To The New.” Ashland, Bowling Green & Hopewell: A Virginia Newspaper Vanishing Act

The above quote is from the inaugural issue of the newly merged, freshly hyphenated Ashland Herald-Progress of 1919.  The editor requests the reader’s forbearance as the paper negotiates the challenges of combining and reorganizing two staffs into one.Herald-Progress editorial

A happy and manageable transformation, and one, like so many other similar mergers of the early 20th century, that spoke to the promising business prospects of newspaper ownership in cities both large and small.   A hundred years later however, media of more compelling and seductive charisma than the printed page have introduced an environment of less metamorphosis, more (apologies) metanophosis, as print newspapers are getting a quick nudge off the media bluff.

Last month Lakeway Publishers of Tennessee announced the closure of the Herald-Progress and the neighboring Caroline Progress of Caroline County.  Prince George County’s Hopewell News, about the same distance from Richmond to the south, heard their exit music from Lancaster Management of Alabama back in January.  That totals nearly three hundred years of publishing history brought to a conclusive finish.

While the Project’s purpose understandably keeps us fixed on the past, events of the present merit some attention as they suggest an acceleration to the demise of a business model of always anxious (the corporate word of choice) “viability”–the tandem of a double life, print and internet.  If they haven’t yet faded, you may observe in these links a pair of web spirits confused and unhinged from time, the weather forecast still updating like a lone humming appliance in an abandoned house: http://www.carolineprogress.com/ http://www.herald-progress.com/

It’s not news that newsprint is on the clock.  What may be new is the feeling that you can now see the second-hand moving.  As events of interest occur, we’ll keep you updated with an emphasis on alterations in the Virginia print landscape.  For now, it seems a proper salute to pull from our microfilm catalog the earliest numbers for these departing newspapers.

Caroline Progress, Sept. 5, 1919/Tri-County News (later Hopewell News), June 11, 1926/Herald-Progress, Feb. 7, 1919

Caroline Progress, Sept. 5, 1919/Tri-County News (later Hopewell News), June 11, 1926/Herald-Progress, Feb. 7, 1919

While no doubt of little consolation to the former employees of these weeklies, from the perspective of catalogers who, like ourselves, know the brevity of most newspapers, such longevity is undoubtedly a success story. To last within reach of a century is no small achievement.

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