Truth in labeling?

When newspapers merge, the editorial and production facilities integrate; the masthead, maybe not so much. The poster child for this sort of thing was born in the 1970s in Boston, where the Herald Traveler, itself the product of merger, was acquired by the rival Record-American, itself the product of merger. For a brief unshining moment the surviving paper was actually called by all four names; when Rupert Murdoch bought it, he squoze the name back down to Boston Herald, the name it retains today under different ownership.

This sort of shenanigans undoubtedly influenced the guys at National Lampoon, who produced a parody Sunday newspaper for scenic Dacron, Ohio, which they called the Republican-Democrat. But as usual, life is funnier than jokes: in 1940, two Chattanooga newspapers, the News and the Free Press, merged to form the Chattanooga News-Free Press. In terms of Just Asking For It, this was right up there with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a paper that clearly should have been perfect for this post-intelligent age.

Still, a joke this good has staying power, and the News-Free Press survived until 1999, when a merger with the rival Times gave birth to the Times Free Press, pointedly lacking the hyphen. The P-I, alas, went Internet-only in 2009.

(Suggested by Brett Oyler.)


  1. Rule 5 Sunday – A blast from the past « A Conservative Shemale »

    3 January 2010 · 8:05 am

    […] Dustbury looks at the unintended irony of newspaper names. News-Free Press Ha! […]

  2. McGehee »

    3 January 2010 · 10:28 am

    My wife’s uncle was, until sometime in the last year, employed as a senior photojournalist with a Chattanooga newspaper up to and past that 1999 merger, but not at the News-Free. He had a less than complimentary opinion of the latter.

    Then the Times Free laid him off when he was within sight of retiring with a full pension — after having had him doing editor-level work without editor-level pay for years ‘n’ years.

  3. Francis W. Porretto »

    3 January 2010 · 4:02 pm

    And was the News-Free Press’s inaugural headline something on the order of RED TAPE HOLDS UP NEW BRIDGE, or perhaps ONE THIRD OF INFANT DEATHS PREMATURE — ? Inquiring minds want to know!

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