The Exponent and Telegram newspapers in Clarksburg were owned by separate companies until 1927. After that year they were owned by Clarksburg Publishing Company, sharing staff and facilities but published separately. In 2002, they were combined into a single newspaper, the Exponent Telegram.
The Telegram was the older paper, originating as the National Telegraph in the Civil War era. It was founded December 27, 1861, by U.S. Sen. John S. Carlile and Robert Saunders Northcott. Both were staunch Unionists, and Carlile was an early leader of the West Virginia statehood movement. When Northcott departed for war service Carlile renamed the newspaper Patriot. Northcott, captured by Confederates and exchanged after nine months in Libby Prison, returned to buy the paper from Carlile, naming it Clarksburg Telegram.
In 1891, a group of prominent Clarksburg investors, including Republican leader Nathan Goff Jr., acquired the Telegram. Cecil B. Highland became a stockholder in 1902, beginning his family’s century-long association with the newspaper, which became a daily that same year. A Sunday edition was added in 1914.
Meanwhile, an opposition paper was started in 1910 by men active in the Democratic Party, including future presidential candidate John W. Davis. Originally published as the Culpeper Exponent, the same name as an associated newspaper in Culpeper County, Virginia, the new newspaper became the Exponent-American in 1915. It became the Clarksburg Exponent two years later. Guy Tetrick, whose extensive genealogy collection is now housed at West Virginia University, was involved with the Exponent from the beginning and served as its manager from 1915 until the 1930s.
On August 27, 1927, the Telegram Company purchased Clarksburg Publishing Company and moved from the Empire Building on Fourth Street to Hewes Avenue, its present location. Retaining the name Clarksburg Publishing Company, the merged operation now owned both of Clarksburg’s papers. A used Goss Staightline press purchased in 1928 printed both newspapers in an old-fashioned wide format for the next seven decades. It was believed to be the oldest press in daily operation in the United States when it was replaced in January 1998 by a Goss Urbanite that allowed full color capability and reduced the newspapers’ width to modern standards.
Today, Clarksburg’s newspaper is published seven days a week as the Exponent Telegram. With a daily circulation of about 14,000, the Exponent Telegram serves Clarksburg, Harrison County, and several surrounding counties. General Manager Cecil B. Highland Jr., who was involved with Clarksburg Publishing Company from 1957 until his death, January 13, 2002, was the only West Virginian ever elected president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.
This Article was written by Gerald D. Swick
Last Revised on May 14, 2013