UNT newspaper online archive tells good tales

Posted Saturday, Mar. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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If Texas history turns you on, the University of North Texas has developed a great free online tool you might like.

Go to texashistory.unt.edu for access to books, photographs, artifacts, posters, artwork, maps, newspapers, letters, manuscripts, audio recordings, video and other historic materials from more than 200 collaborative partners.

While searching the site, I was most interested in reading about early Fort Worth and Dallas newspapers and how they evolved.

When Brevet Maj. Ripley Arnold established Fort Worth as a community in 1849, Dallas already had a newspaper, the Dallas Herald, which began printing that year. Fort Worth wouldn't get its first real newspaper until more than 20 years later.

The Fort Worth Democrat began publishing in 1871 and lasted a little more than 10 years. The Fort Worth Whig-Chief also began printing as a weekly in 1871 but quickly folded.

In 1882, the Democrat became the Fort Worth Daily Gazette when rancher George B. Loving combined the Democrat and the Texas Livestock Journal. It had 6,000 subscribers who paid $10 annually and was Fort Worth's first true daily because it printed every day of the year. The Democrat had been a weekly part of its life and didn't print on Mondays when it tried increasing publication to several days a week.

The first two editors of the Gazette were Buckley B. Paddock and Walter Malone, and their accomplishments as Fort Worth editors put mine to shame.

Paddock served four terms as Fort Worth mayor and helped establish the city's first fire department, water works and school system. He also may have served as a role model for a young Amon Carter, for Paddock apparently became a minor celebrity, known nationwide for his promotion of Texas and Fort Worth. Carter later perfected that role as a larger-then-life character beating the drum for his adopted hometown.

Malone, who had worked as an apprentice printer at the Whig, succeeded Buckley and added innovations like information for women and led the Gazette to some of the largest circulation numbers of any newspaper in the state.

In 1885, The Dallas Morning News began publishing and quickly ended the life of the Dallas Herald by buying it. The same thing happened again more than 100 years later in 1991 when the News bought the Dallas Times-Herald and closed it.

In Fort Worth a succession of newspapers came and went: the Fort Worth Guide, Fort Worth Morning Register, Fort Worth Post, Fort Worth Record and Fort Worth Standard. The Dallas Morning News purchased the Gazette in 1896 and shut it.

But the Fort Worth Evening Mail began printing in 1891 and is the forerunner of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Mail later became the Fort Worth Telegram and printed until 1908.

Publisher Louis J. Wortham, ad manager Amon G. Carter, D.C. McCaleb and A.G. Dawson began publishing the Fort Worth Star in 1906 with the help of Col. Paul Waples, a grocer and their major investor.

Although the paper was struggling financially, they raised $100,000 to buy the Telegram, combined it with the Star and published the first Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Jan. 1, 1909.

With the sale of the morning Fort Worth Record in 1925 to become the morning Fort Worth Record-Telegram (later the morning Star-Telegram), and the demise of the evening Fort Worth Press in 1975, the Star-Telegram became the lone daily newspaper in Fort Worth and remains so.

Our competitors now aren't newspapers. They're broadcast, the Internet and social media.

Our industry has undergone a huge transformation in the past 10 years, and now the Star-Telegram is a multi-platform news and information company, not just a newspaper.

I wonder what Buckley Paddock and Walter Malone might think.

Jim Witt is executive editor of the Star-Telegram



Twitter: @jimelvis

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