BIRMINGHAM – The Gadsden Times, a daily newspaper and Etowah County’s oldest business, was honored today by the Alabama Retail Association as an Alabama Centennial Retailer, a retailer with 100 or more years in business in Alabama.
“For businesses to survive despite the dramatic changes of the past century is a remarkable achievement,” said ARA President Rick Brown. “It is fitting to celebrate the enduring contributions The Gadsden Times has made to the seven counties where it circulates in its first 145 years.”
The Gadsden Times, founded in 1867 by Leonidas W. Grant and T.J. Cox, two Confederate veterans, predates Etowah County itself by a few months. The Times, published seven mornings a week, is distributed in Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, DeKalb, Etowah, Marshall and St. Clair counties in northeast Alabama.
While readership has moved somewhat from the printed product to the online publication, publisher Glen Porter said in the newspaper’s entry form, the print product remains strong. Readership is higher than ever thanks to the various platforms through which The Times is distributed.
The Times has been owned since January by Halifax Media Group, which is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla. Before that the newspaper was a member of the New York Times Regional Media Group, a subsidiary of the New York Times Co. The Times Co. acquired The Times in 1985 from the Public Welfare Foundation, a charitable entity. The Times had been donated by its owner Edward Marsh, along with other newspapers he owned, before his death in 1964.
The following recap of the newspaper’s history is excerpted from the book “Portrait of a City,” which The Times published in 1996:
In 1869, after fighting off political enemies, founders Leonidas W. Grant and T.J. Cox sold their newspaper to William Morton Meeks for $800
In 1887, a rival publication, The News, was merged into The Times. The Times-News’ name was changed in 1906 to The Gadsden Daily Times, which was published six days a week. The original name, The Gadsden Times, was restored in 1924 by owners Charles and J.L. Meeks, sons of W.M. Meeks.
The pair sold The Times to W.S. Mudd and B.H. Mooney in 1927. Mudd later bought out Mooney and after Mudd died in 1946, his widow sold the paper to General Newspapers Inc.
In 1954, The Gadsden Times Publishing Corp. was formed by Frank Helderman Sr. and the company published The Times with the Public Welfare Foundation until 1984, when the Helderman family sold its interest to the foundation.
Upon the paper’s purchase by the New York Times Co., Frank Helderman Jr. was named publisher, replacing his father who had retired because of failing health. Helderman Sr. held the title of publisher emeritus until his death in 1992.
Today, The Times continues its long tradition of community service. The paper has won numerous state and national awards for its reporting, photography and design. The newspaper began publishing a quarterly magazine, Gadsden Style, two years ago. It won second place for niche publication in the Alabama Press Association contest for 2011.
Of the 25 daily newspapers published in Alabama, The Times has the ninth highest daily circulation. In addition to its editorial offices in Gadsden, The Times maintains a state capital bureau in Montgomery.
The Alabama Retail Association presents awards annually to Centennial Retailers. To notify Alabama Retail of a retail business that has been in operation for 100 years or more, please contact Nancy Dennis at (800) 239-5423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Our 4,000 independent merchant and national company members sell food, clothing, furniture and other general merchandise at more than 6,000 locations throughout Alabama. ARA promotes what is best for the retailing industry in Alabama and has been doing so since 1943. From legislation to education, through communication and member services, ARA members benefit from the value of membership in their association. Retail works!
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