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Huntington Herald-Dispatch

The Herald-Dispatch, the only daily newspaper in Huntington since 1979, is published each morning seven days a week. It began in 1909 with the merger of the Herald and the Huntington Dispatch, and descends from the city’s early newspapers. The first of these was the Independent, moved from Winfield to Huntington by O. G. Chase in 1871, the same year rail tycoon Collis P. Huntington founded the city. The Independent soon merged with the Cabell Press, and the resulting publication was named the Weekly Advertiser. It became a daily publication as the Advertiser in 1889.

In 1893, Joseph Harvey Long, a young printer from Pennsylvania by way of Wheeling, arrived in Huntington to buy the Herald, which had begun publication in 1890. Eighteen months later he sold it and bought the Advertiser. The Huntington Dispatch began in 1904. When it and the Herald merged in 1909, a stock company owned the newspaper until Dave Gideon became sole owner in 1919. Then in 1924, Colonel Long bought the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street to erect a building for his paper. The Herald-Dispatch built a new home just a few doors down.

After a brief rivalry, the two publishers announced a merger of the two organizations as the Huntington Publishing Co., with Long as chairman and Gideon as president. The mechanical and business operations were combined while the two news staffs operated independently. Both men were publishers until their deaths. Gideon died in 1950 and Long in 1958 at the age of 95. The publishing company also purchased radio station WSAZ during this time and in 1949 started one of the nation’s first TV stations, WSAZ-TV, Channel 3. Both stations were later sold.

After Long’s two sons, Edward and Walker, died, and Gideon’s nephew, William D. Birke, died in 1963, two widows took charge of Huntington newspaper publishing. Edward Long’s widow, Hilda Long, became president and publisher of the Advertiser and Helen Birke became chairman and publisher of the Herald-Dispatch. Local ownership ended in January 1971, when the Huntington Publishing Co. was sold to the owners of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Eight months later, the Hawaiian company was purchased by Gannett Co. The Advertiser boasted a higher circulation than the Herald-Dispatch for many years, but as reading habits changed, afternoon newspaper circulation declined. In 1979, the Advertiser ceased publication and merged into the Herald-Dispatch, with many of the reporters from the afternoon daily going to work on Huntington’s lone remaining newspaper. In 2007, Champion Industries, a Huntington firm, purchased the newspaper. Circulation in 2013 was 25,684.

Written by Tom D. Miller