Last week I started a review of my 34 years as publisher of this newspaper, from my first interview with Terry Forcht to the first issue of the Whitley Republican we published on our new Mac Plus computers.
This week I will move the story further to the big splash we made on Aug. 12, 1987. It was the first issue of Corbin! This Week. It was also the first full color edition of a newspaper in this area.
We printed 10,000 copies of the paper and mailed them to all the households in the Corbin area. We had to go to Danville to get it printed because they had the only printing plant in the area that could do full color. The paper had four sections and each section had a different color, similar to the new USA Today which we were copying our style after.
It had only three color pictures. To get the separations for the colored pictures we had to send the negatives to Lexington to have them made, then pick them up and take them to Danville. Doing full color was not an easy task at that time.
But we were proud of our new product. We were so proud that when Willie Sawyers and I watched the presses roll and then when our truck was loaded with the papers in Danville we couldn’t wait to share our excitement. We stopped at a telephone booth in Stanford to call back to our office in Williamsburg to tell the staff the good news.
Now we had two newspapers, the Whitley Republican and Corbin! This Week. Here is how we dealt with the two editions.
For the Whitley Republican edition we would put all Williamsburg related stories on the front page and the Corbin related news in the inside pages. Then for the Corbin! This Week edition we would reverse the process.
That meant extra work every week just to give each edition its identity. We kept that up until 1992 when I approached Terry Forcht and told him I wanted to change the name of the newspapers to News Journal and combine the two editions under the one name, but keep both the Whitley Republican and Corbin! This Week on the mast head under the News Journal heading.
He agreed to the change. I knew it was a risk taking move, but if we were to grow we had to have a name that identified us as one newspaper.
The move paid off quickly. We had a newspaper solicitation drive and in a two-week period we signed up 1,700 new subscribers. It wasn’t long before we became the largest weekly in the state of Kentucky.
Since we were now competing against a thriving daily newspaper in Corbin they challenged us for the legal advertising which went to the newspaper with the largest circulation in the county.
We lost our case in Whitley Circuit Court and again in the Court of Appeals, but since we knew the law would give it to the newspaper with the largest circulation in the publication area, we were confident it was us.
In order to prove our case we had to verify our circulation. I have never worked harder in my life than when I did then. I went to every place the daily sold papers and got the sales numbers from them and also their carriers. I had all the evidence that proved we had the largest circulation in the publication area.
We then took our case to the State Supreme Court and won. It was a landmark decision that several newspaper cases have used in court since then.
Before Terry built our own printing plant we had printed at seven different locations. We had printed in London, Harlan, Middlesboro, Georgetown, Mt. Sterling, Danville and Lexington.
We kept growing until most of the printing plants could no longer handle our production. We ended up at the Lexington Herald-Leader before we got into the printing business.
For the first time ever a weekly has been successful in Corbin. Our Corbin and Williamsburg readership has been very good to us.
This 34 year trip I have been on would have not have been successful without the support of Terry Forcht and our award winning staff of which most have been here over 25 years.
In recent years the Internet has had its effect on newspapers, ours included, but our readership remains strong.
The value of having a local newspaper cannot be overstated. The Internet will never produce the range of news that we offer. Long live community newspapers!