Newspapers of Wooster
By Brittany Previte
From the Daily Republican’s accounts of Civil War battles to the Daily Record’s coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Wooster’s newspapers have connected the city to Ohio, the nation and the world. More importantly, these papers have defined the community. Their editorials, advertisements, news briefs and public notices, when read by the Wooster community at large, together forged an identity of a blossoming city.
For over a century, the editors of America’s newspapers, especially those from the small towns of the Old Northwest, believed that their primary responsibility was to better their community. Using their sway over public opinion, these men and women promoted both economic and demographic growth. H.C. Johnson, editor or the Wooster Republican in the 1850s, wrote, “There is not a single public interest, that is not more or less dependent upon the local paper for its success.”1 Johnson’s editorial support for “public interests” ranged from the continuation of the county fair (its premium lists published by the Republican) to attendance at local society meetings (advertised by the Republican). As visible leaders of the city, editors often gave the first and last word on important civic topics and used their influence to cultivate change. Wooster Daily Record employee Elizabeth Funk wrote about Emmett Dix, editor and publisher of the same paper, “If we today have a cultured community, with our College, our public library, our Federated Clubs, a religious community…[and] a progressive agricultural community...one of the chief reasons lies in the life and accomplishments of Emmett Dix.”2
Highly partisan, newspapers like the Wayne County Democrat and the Daily Republican defined local and national politics for their readers. In addition to advertising the local party meetings, the papers encouraged voting along party lines and published lists of candidates they endorsed. The newspapers also served as the site for public discussion on local and national issues. The “Letters to the Editor” became central conduits for debates.
1 "The Importance of Local Newspapers." The Wooster Republican. January 2, 1862.
2 Elizabeth Funk, “Emmet Dix Means: Wooster.” The Wooster Daily Record. May 21, 1953.