Newark Advocate

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The Newark Advocate was established in 1820, by Benjamin Briggs, as a weekly newspaper publisher. Historians argue on whether or not the printing press became a daily publisher (called The Daily Advocate) in 1881 or 1883. Many believed that The Daily Advocate was the first daily paper until an old journal appeared, having been published by The Newark Evening Journal in 1876. However, The Newark Advocate outlived this paper by over a century.[1] The first time the Newark Advocate published a Sunday paper was in 1893, but it only lasted a few months. However, in 1983, The Newark Advocate decided to try the Sunday paper again.[2]

In October 1989, The Newark Advocate held a National Newspaper Week contest, inviting members of the Licking County to find the oldest paper in the area. The winner was Charles Lees of Newark, who found a paper dated November 4, 1870. At this time, The Newark Advocate was known as the Newark American.[3] The oldest paper still in existence is dated back to 1821, and it is in the possession of the Newark Advocate.[4]

On December 14, 1987, the Newark Advocate released a change in their paper’s appearance. In order to make the paper easier for their readers to read, the Newark Advocate staff increased the font size. Aside from the font, the nameplate was redesigned to allow for the photographs to be larger, to have the paper’s index, and to make room for more color. Their hopes were that this larger font would make the paper look cleaner and, thus, make the newspaper more attractive to the readers.[5]

In 1990, the Newark Advocate released their plans to build a new building, after high winds caused part of the old building to fall down. The new building was expected to take 6 months to build, but they released that it would be almost a year before all of the offices were moved to the new facility. This 48,000 square foot building stands on the corner of First and Church streets. In order to continue the Newark Advocate tradition, the building has a stone archway that reads “Advocate” in the front.[6]

July 14, 1998 marked a new partnership between Thomson Central Ohio, the company that owned the Newark Advocate, and the NBC television station. The partnership was established to help make local news more easily available to the local population, increasing the audience for both groups. Their hope was that this partnership would help the Newark Advocate relay quick and accurate information on events to the communities outside of Columbus.[7]

In February 2000, Thomson Corporation announced that they would be selling the Advocate and their other newspaper presses throughout Ohio. The decision was made when Thomson Corporation decided to spend more time and focus on their global e-information and solutions business.[8] The business was bought by Gannett Company, and the ownership took effect July 21, 2000. The new ownership group promised not to change the commitment to readers and advertisers that had been a part of Thomson Corporation.[9]

In early 2014, the Gannett Publishing Services announced that they would be moving the Newark Advocate operations from downtown Newark to Columbus to be handled by The Dispatch Printing Company. While 60 employees were allowed to remain in downtown Newark, 74 jobs were eliminated, but these employees were urged to reapply for the Columbus positions.[10]


In November 1997, the Newark Advocate was one of two newspapers to receive national honors from the NHRA, based on their “comprehensive and professional coverage of a national event.”[11]

In June 1998, the Newark Advocate one first place for general excellence from the Associated Press. That year, 73 newspapers had submitted 2,740 entries in the twenty-one categories. Several reporters and a photographer also won individual honors based on their work: Jonathan Quilter, Joseph Williams Jr., Brent Snavely, Brian Miller, and Kent Cahlander.[12]

Honorable Mentions

Benjamin Briggs, founder of the Newark Advocate, was originally from Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Briggs was born in 1798, making him twenty-two when he came to Newark, riding on a saddlehorse. Briggs established the Newark Advocate as the first free newspaper to Newark’s population, a mere 500 people in 1820. Briggs was the only worker of the Newark Advocate until 1856, when he sold the newspaper to William D. Morgan, so he could devote more time to his involvement in politics. In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected as the next president, Briggs had to give up his politically-appointed office, leading him to return to Newark, where he died six years later. He was 68-years-old and died of a sudden illness.[13]

Charles H. Spencer worked for the Newark Advocate from 1893 to 1942, when he passed away. In 1893, the year Spencer started, he worked as a reporter. Three years later, he became associate editor and continued in that position until 1907, when he was made secretary and manager of the Advocate Printing Company. Charles Spencer was very dedicated to the community; he was a member of several city improvement groups. On December 9, 1942, Spencer was traveling on Route 21, near Newcomerstown, when he lost control of his car. He crashed into a truck that was being driven by a 16-year-old. He died of a broken neck and head injury at age 72.[14]

For 25 years, the Newark Advocate had a section titled “The Melting Pot,” which was written each day by a Miss Ema Spencer (her pen name was Aunt Ca’line). In her many years of writing, she had made acquaintance with many different columnists, cartoonists, and other types of writers. She received two recognitions; Ema Spencer was listed in “American Women” (a publication naming women who had achieved distinction in their pursuits) and was paid tribute to in “Woman’s Wit” for her wise words. Unfortunately, Miss Ema Spencer died on August 31, 1941 following a sudden illness, a cerebral embolism, which was most likely caused as a result of a broken hip that she had suffered two years before. [15]


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  1. “Centennial Year Copy of Old Newark Journal Found Here,” The Advocate, July 2, 1938.
  2. Advocate Staff, “163 years from weekly to seven-day newspaper,” The Advocate, October 3, 1983, 20.
  3. “Oldest newspaper winner,” October 12, 1989.
  4. “Pack horse carried first Advocate ‘plant’,” The Advocate, October 7, 1990, 1D.
  5. Advocate Staff, “Changes give brighter look to ‘The Advocate’,” The Advocate, December 14, 1987.
  6. Eric Anderson, “Newspaper offers glimpse of future,” The Advocate, May 19, 1990.
  7. Brent Snavely, “New partnership links newspapers with television,” The Advocate, July 14, 1998, 1, 2A.
  8. “Thomson Corp. will sell The Advocate and other papers,” The Advocate, February 16, 2000.
  9. “Gannett Co. takes ownership of The Advocate,” The Advocate, July 22, 2000, 3A.
  10. “Advocate printing moving to Columbus,” The Advocate, February 28, 2014, 1A, 2A.
  11. “Newspaper earns honors from NHRA,” The Advocate, November 11, 1997.
  12. “The Advocate captures top newspaper award,” The Advocate, June 15, 1998.
  13. Pack horse carried first Advocate ‘plant’,” The Advocate, October 7, 1990, 1D.
  14. “Advocate Chief dies in collision on trip for U.S.,” The Advocate, December 1942.
  15. “Death Calls Advocate’s Aunt Ca’line,” The Advocate, September 1, 1941, 1,2.