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Originally published: 2010-10-25 10:53:06
Last modified: 2011-06-24 11:55:03

Watauga Democrat has new look

nt size="3">The Watauga Democrat published Oct. 24 what is believed to be its first Sunday edition since the paper started in 1888.nt>

nt size="3">The completely redesigned Sunday newspaper replaces the Monday edition and includes new sections focused on lifestyles, business, faith, schools and opinion. Readers will also notice expanded rack locations and home delivery for the first time in about four years.nt>

nt size="3">But the paper's fundamental goals have not changed, publisher Gene Fowler said.nt>

nt size="3">"Our first mission is to cover the residents of the community from birth until death and everything in between," Fowler said. "Those things that are important to your life, we want to cover those."nt>

nt size="3">The addition of a Sunday paper has been a consideration for the company  since about 2002, Fowler said, but it was cemented after a market study conducted in March by Pulse Survey indicated a demand and desire for a local Sunday paper.nt>

nt size="3">The staff has been implementing and planning for changes ever since.nt>

nt size="3">Today, nearly 400 subscribers, primarily those in Boone town limits, are receiving the paper at their homes, rather than by mail. Those who are included were sent an orange notice last month informing them of the switch. The routes will be expanding in the future to include more homes.nt>

nt size="3">The Wednesday and Friday editions will still be sent to subscribers by mail. Those two editions are also going to press later on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, ensuring that the news you get is more recent and more relevant.nt>

nt size="3">The new edition should also be a boon for advertisers, as readers generally have more time to browse the newspaper on weekends than weekdays.nt>

nt size="3">Although the recent innovations are remarkable, the paper has seen its  share of changes throughout its 122-year history.nt>

nt size="3">The Watauga Democrat was launched in 1888 by the local Democratic party with help from Joseph Spainhour and John S. Williams. The first paper was printed on the Washington Hand Press, a metal press that had to be fed one sheet at a time and is now kept at a state museum in Raleigh.nt>

nt size="3">The paper folded after the fall election, but it was taken over the following year by R.C. Rivers Sr. and D.B. Dougherty. Rivers became the sole leader by the end of the year, starting nearly a century of family ownership.nt>

nt size="3">R.C. Rivers' son, Robert Campbell Rivers, led the paper from 1933 until his death in 1975, during which time The Blowing Rocket and The AveryJournal became part of the newspaper family.nt>

nt size="3">Rob Rivers' daughter Rachel Rivers-Coffey succeeded him as The Watauga Democrat's publisher and operated it with her husband, Armfield Coffey, until 1994.nt>

nt size="3">The couple sold the newspaper to Eugene and Anne Worrell, owners of the Bristol Herald-Courier, who then sold it in 1997 to Art and Fran Powers.nt>

nt size="3">Jones Media then acquired The Watauga Democrat and its sister papers The Avery Journal and The Blowing Rocket in 2002, having already purchased The Mountain Times the year before.nt>

nt size="3">The last significant design modification occurred in 2004 and included changes to the size and format of the paper.nt>

nt size="3">The current leadership and staff of the paper are excited for the changes arriving this week to The Watauga Democrat. Any questions about the changes and suggestions can be directed to (828) 264-6397.nt>

nt size="3">"We're really excited about it," said Pat Helms, a circulation consultant for Jones Media who has been assisting with the transition. "As soon as we can take a few short breaths and see where we're at, we'll continue to ascend the peak."nt>

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