Column – News goes digital

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Editor’s note: This weekly column series focuses on the history of the Suffolk News-Herald and the news of Suffolk as it was told on its pages.

Read part 1 here

In June of 1950, the newspaper moved to its longtime South Saratoga Street building, where it would undergo many changes and be brought into the digital age.

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The newspaper has changed ownership several times over the years, maintaining its name and reputation as a reliable source of Suffolk news.

Obici sold the paper to R.A Harry Aug. 1, 1939. Harry was originally from the Tidewater region of Virginia and had owned and operated newspapers in Tennessee prior to taking ownership of the News-Herald. He held the paper for two years, then sold it to C. Marshall Johnston and Associates, Aug. 1, 1941. Johnston was from a well known newspaper family in West Virginia. His wife was from Norfolk. He expanded coverage almost immediately.

At the beginning of 1943, in the midst of World War II, Johnston sold the paper to W.J. Missett and Charles Hodel, of Beckley, West Virginia. Johnston had been in the newspaper business at various other papers around the country, having started as a reporter and ad salesman in Pennsylvania.

Eighteen years later, as the Cold War heated up and the first troops were sent to Vietnam, Missett and Beckley sold the paper to William C. Thomas and Associates, from Bristol. The main stock holders in the company were T. Eugene Worrell and Carmage Walls.

It was while Worrell and Walls owned the company that future owner Jim Boone would spend time as publisher of the News-Herald.

Worrell became sole owner of the paper in the 1970s, selling to Media General of Richmond, Oct 27, 1995. Just as the rest of the world began to go digital, so did the paper.

During the five years Media General owned the paper, many changes happened. The Suffolk press was removed in 1998, and the paper began to be printed at a sister paper in Ahoskie, North Carolina. The age of digital had begun.

In 2000, Boone Newsmedia Inc., current owner of the Suffolk News-Herald, bought the paper from Media General. Jim Boone, majority owner of Boone Newsmedia Inc., was publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald from 1961-1968.

Boone Newsmedia continued the journey into the digital news era. Its website, suffolknewsherald.com, went live April 1, 2001 and has provided the most up-to-date news around the clock since. These days nearly everything can be done online, from submitting a news tip to reading this column. But behind it all is hardworking, dedicated reporters and staff making sure that while the times have changed, the quality of news has not.

Suffolk Living Magazine, a feature magazine, was launched in 2009. It is now published six times per year, with about 6,000 copies distributed for free to locations around the city.

In 2018, amid rising costs of newsprint, Saturday publication of the Suffolk News-Herald was dropped. In 2020, the paper became a twice-weekly publication in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic hardships felt across the industry.

On Aug. 4, 2020, an EF-1 tornado spawned by Hurricane Isaias severely damaged 130 S. Saratoga St., the longtime home of the paper, requiring a temporary relocation to the current office at 157 N. Main St. The Saratoga Street building was later sold to a developer that turned it into apartments.

Digital copies of the Suffolk News-Herald have been archived by the Virginia Chronicle and are available for the public to view going back to Aug. 1, 1927, at virginiachronicle.com. More current digital copies of the paper starting in March of 2020 are available at suffolknewsherald.com.

In celebration of 150 years of newspaper publication, I am going to dig into the archives and highlight headlines and information from throughout the years presenting a unique look at how this newspaper has provided news for Suffolk about Suffolk. Check back here each Wednesday as we journey together through the decades.

Historical information for this column and those that follow in this series has been gathered through the digital versions of Suffolk News-Herald and The Tidewater News archives at virginiachronicle.com, as well as a special Suffolk Bi-Centenial edition published Oct. 2, 1942.