A half-century ago Monday, The Daily Journal published its first issue.
But that inaugural issue, with a Page 1 headline proclaiming “Hello Johnson county, the Journal is rolling,” was far from a simple act. It took two years of detailed planning and construction and, as the editor wrote in the first issue, “much sweat and toil, a few anxious moments and almost two weeks of make-believe trial runs.”
In that first issue, publisher Robert N. Brown said the Journal “will cover news happenings throughout the county and in both Morgantown and the Southport area, with emphasis on accurate news coverage and community service.”
On the editorial page, the editor and publisher printed a statement labeled simply “Our responsibility.” That statement reads in part:
“As your new afternoon daily newspaper serving the Johnson County area ours will be a many-sided responsibility.
“First, it should be explained that we, as staff members and publishers of The Daily Journal, have a tremendous amount of faith in this area’s potential growth. ... As your new afternoon newspaper, we intend to be a part of this growth.
“To us, a newspaper can and should be an important communication medium for the people whom it serves. This means, in effect, that it will be our responsibility to keep the reader informed daily of the new happenings in your city, the rural area and throughout the county.
“More than that, it also will be our responsibility, on the editorial pages and not in news copy, to keep you informed on both the good and bad aspects of any issues or situation. When necessary we will take a positive position with regard to controversial issues or situations but only after the facts involved have been evaluated from ‘both sides of the fence.’
“However, by and large we feel that the citizenry, given both sides of an issue or situation, are quite capable of making the right decision and taking subsequent action. ...
“In short, it is our intention to provide you, the reader, with an afternoon newspaper that will keep you well informed, entertained and stimulated toward making our county a fine place in which to live and raise a family. ...
“Quite honestly, we hope to produce a newspaper which you can be proud to identify as ‘my local newspaper.’ We know that if you can be proud of it, so can we.”
A lot has changed in 50 years. The paper has shifted from afternoons to mornings, and the county itself has substantially grown in population. But our commitment to the community remains steadfast and underpins all that we do here at The Daily Journal.
At the top of the first editorial page, we printed a mission statement for The Daily Journal.
As we enter our second half-century as a publication, that statement is still there and remains as true today as it did on July 22, 1963:
“The Daily Journal is dedicated to community service, to defense of individual rights and to providing those checks upon government which no constitution can ensure.”
We seek to live up to that commitment every day and plan to do so every time we publish.