By MICHAEL WANBAUGH
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The community’s need for reliable information is as old as the city itself. The Goshen News is proud to trace its roots all the way back to 1837. That means 2012 marks the 175th year this paper has served this community. It has been a struggle at times, especially in light of a fragile economy and emerging technologies in recent years.
But those aren’t excuses for anything. They are merely challenges, like others before them, that we are working every day to overcome.
It is truly a joy for the staff at The Goshen News to chronicle such a diverse and strong community on a daily basis.
We hope you will enjoy reading this passage on how The Goshen News got its start and became what it is today.
Goshen’s first newspaper was published 175 years ago on Jan. 28, 1837, under the front-page banner of “The Goshen Express.” In September 1837, Ebenezer Brown founded a second newspaper in Goshen, “The Goshen Democrat,” which was the forerunner for The Goshen News.
A third Goshen newspaper, “The Goshen Times,” was established in 1855 by C.W. Stevens and E.W. Metcalf. It consisted of four pages published on Thursdays. An annual subscription cost $2.
“The Times” later became a primary source of Civil War information for Goshen residents, providing battle reports from colonels and Indiana regiments.
The Goshen Independent was founded in 1875 and was later renamed “The Independent,” the “Goshen Weekly News” and finally, in 1896, “The Goshen Daily News” when it then became a Republican newspaper. The corporate owner of the paper was The News Printing Company, which was formed in 1892.
In 1897, “The Goshen Democrat” became a daily newspaper, but also maintained a weekly edition for it rural subscribers.
Shortly after the turn of the century, News Printing Company owner George W. Kinnison purchased “The Goshen Times” and merged it with “The Goshen Daily News,” creating “The Goshen News-Times.”
“The News-Times” and “The Goshen Democrat” competed against each other for more than 30 years before merging on July 1, 1933, and becoming “The Goshen News-Times and Democrat.” The name was shortened a few years later to “The Goshen News-Democrat.”
In 1937, “The News-Democrat” published a 64-page special section commemorating 100 years of community journalism in Goshen. It included a letter of congratulations from Indiana Gov. M. Clifford Townsend and the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“I congratulate the News-Democrat upon achieving such usefulness to the community that it has completed a full century of publication,” Roosevelt wrote. “I should appreciate it if I may, through the medium of the Centennial Edition, extend to all of your readers my hearty felicitations and warmest personal greetings. I trust that the community which your paper has served for so long may continue to enjoy happiness and prosperity as the years come and go.”
When Kinnison died in 1954, his majority interest in the News Printing Company was transferred to his nephew, Frank L. “Budd” Hascall, and niece, Jane Hascall Spencer. Frank acquired his sister’s stock and took principal ownership. It was that same year that Hascall shortened the name of the paper to “The Goshen News,” which it has been ever since.
Hascall remained majority owner until his death in 1990, at which time ownership was transferred to his daughter, Jane Hascall Gemmer. In March 1999, the Gemmer family sold the News Printing Company to Gray Communications Systems Inc., out of Atlanta, Ga. Seven years later, in April 2006, NPC and The Goshen News were acquired from Gray by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI) based in Alabama.
Since “Budd” Hascall’s death 22 years ago, The Goshen News has had four publishers: John Gemmer, John Reynolds, Jim Kroemer and currently Ron Smith.
Prior to 1946, “The Goshen News-Democrat” was printed on a flatbed press in the basement of the main Goshen News building on Main Street.
A new Single Goss Unitube press was installed on the main floor in the back of the building in 1946. It relied on a hot-metal composing process and could print 16 pages at a time.
As the paper grew, the need for a bigger press capacity became evident and in 1968, the press building facing Fifth Street was constructed. The downstairs press was moved into the new building and a second Goss Unitube was installed creating a dual press unit.
It wasn’t long before more changes were needed as newspapers started to lean more heavily on color photographs. In 1977, The Twin Goss Unitube presses were replaced with a modern, eight-unit, 32-page capacity Goss Community offset press. With it came the changeover from the old hot-metal composing process to chemical process in which a negative of the page was burned onto a plate and put on the press. The new press could print 18,000 newspapers per hour and handle color on front and back pages.
That press would serve the community for 32 years. In 2009, when faced with either upgrading the press or outsourcing printing services, The Goshen News entered into a partnership with Fort Wayne Newspapers to print the daily paper. In 2007, Fort Wayne Newspapers had completed installation of a six-story, $35 million press capable of printing 53,000 papers per hour with color on each page. The change has greatly enhanced the overall appearance and reproduction of The Goshen News.
It wasn’t until March 1979 that reporters at The Goshen News received their first computer terminal in their newsroom. Prior to that reporters typed their articles on typewriters. Editing changes were often made with scissors and tape.
The CompuGraphic system that relied on floppy disk drives and later a Mycro-tek main frame followed as the conversion from typewriters to word processing continued. In 1995, the newsroom got networked Apple MacIntosh computers. The desktop units enabled editors to quickly scroll through The Associated Press wire, write and edit copy, process photos and design each page of the paper in the newsroom. Before the Macs, each page was assembled by a separate composing department.
Around the same time of the Mac upgrade, The Goshen News began transitioning from film photography to digital photography. The days of processing film and making prints in the darkroom are long gone in the newspaper business. All Goshen News photographs have been taken digitally for more than a decade.
A major computer upgrade in the newsroom was completed in 2009 with the installation of new PC’s with InDesign software that has become an industry standard for producing newspaper pages.
In the 1980s The Goshen News caught up with the space age as national and world news was delivered directly to the newsroom via an Associated Press satellite feed. The Goshen News still has an AP satellite dish on its roof. The satellite feed was actively used through 2010. Since then, AP’s delivery method is Internet based. National, world and sports stories and photos are now pulled from the AP Exchange website.
In 1999, after publishing six days a week for roughly a century, The Goshen News added a Sunday paper. In November 2011, The Goshen News returned to a six-day-a-week cycle and now publishes a print product Wednesday through Monday with a circulation around 12,000 subscribers in Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange and Noble counties.
In recent years The Goshen News staff has devoted more energy to improving its webpage. The site is updated nearly on a one- to two-hour basis seven days a week and allows the news staff to inform its readership of important breaking news.
Readers can also subscribe to an e-edition of The Goshen News, which is a digital reproduction of the print product each day. The website and e-edition allow retirees, transplants, travelers and relatives to keep up with Goshen’s news from anywhere in the world.
The Goshen News website averages nearly 500,000 page views per month. Last month readers from 126 different countries visited The Goshen News website, including Russia, Aruba, Switzerland, Haiti, Guatemala and Bangladesh.
In the United States, other than communities in our local circulation area, the most visitors to the site are from Chicago (ranked third) and Sarasota, Fla. (ninth).
The Goshen News’ Facebook page and Twitter feed can also alert readers of news updates virtually instantaneously and allows them to share news stories on their own sites. z