New Year 2016

Thought I should take a shot at the first blog entry for 2016.

I was looking at some very old newspapers I have. Most are from days around the ending of WWII, but there was one of particular interest to me. It is a copy of the “Kokomo Telegraph” [February 8, 1946 issue]. I don’t remember seeing this one before. From the masthead, it says it includes the “Russiaville Observer”. I am thinking the Telegraph was a successor of the Observer. The Business Manager named was Harry Fawcett, a long-time staunch Democrat. The paper says it is a Democrat paper.

Later this paper became the Howard County News, a weekly based in Greentown. Somewhere along the line there was also the Greentown Gem. I don’t know what happened to it. The ownership of the Howard County News eventually was in the hands of the partners that owned the Kokomo Tribune. The Tribune was the Republican newspaper in the county and the Howard County News was the Democrat one. This was important because state law required publication of legal advertising in both a Republican and Democrat newspaper in each county. Advertising equals revenue. The Howard County News was operated unfettered by its editor, Deke Noble, a staunch Democrat. Tribune partnership ownership was kept secret. That is until one Midge Janner from Kokomo uncovered this. She published the Kokomo Herald paper which was/is Democrat. She was successful in securing the legal advertising away from the News. It supports that paper even today as a free distribution weekly. The Howard County News was buried by the Thomson group after it purchased the Kokomo Tribune in 1981.

The News location in Greentown was the place the Tribune used for training for photocomposition and offset press skills in the 1960’s. A Goss Community offset press was installed there along with a large “process” camera and photocomposition equipment. This was in 1964. The Kokomo Tribune’s first paper from the Goss Metro offset press in Kokomo did not come until October 1967. It took that long for training and installation of the required equipment for the Tribune daily newspaper. Dick Isham was eventually hired as the Tribune’s Production Manager, a position I held before him. He was at a smaller newspaper in California at the time. Dick is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology and was one of a few in the county at the time with the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to help make a transition for the Kokomo Tribune successful. I became mostly involved with computer applications and development in composing processes in addition to computer business applications. One achievement was the development of the “Delco Justifier”, a low cost computer for the creation of punched paper tape that operated Linotype and photocomposition typesetting equipment.

Before that, I remember many nights in Greentown sleeping on rolls of newsprint. At Greentown, I did everything from keyboarding to page paste-up to process camera work to functioning as a pressman.

I could go on. Together, we made the Kokomo Tribune a leader in its class. It was on the cutting edge of production technology and had a skilled and professional cadre of journalists in its news operation. Content and production resulted in the Tribune being named as the “Highest in the Nation” for circulation penetration of its metro market for a run of 8 of a 10 year period. The two we missed, we were second. Great days.

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About Kent Blacklidge Ph.D.

As part of a newspaper family who owned a 34,000 daily newspaper in the heart of the Midwest, I have a passion for a strong “Fourth Estate”, the press. Without a diligent and assertive free press, the power would be taken from the people. People have the absolute right to know. After earning a degree in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, I spent over 20 years in newspaper management with several as publisher. I am also holder of three graduate science degrees including a Ph.D.. I have a passionate interest in science and the environment. I have little tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
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