Place of publication: Newport News, VA
Founded in Newport News in 1896 as a four-page penny newspaper, the Daily Press issued its first edition on January 4, less than two weeks before the General Assembly recognized the port town as a city.
Newport News had grown rapidly since 1880 when railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington had declared the port particularly "ideal for enterprise" and had extended the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway from Richmond to the Virginia Peninsula, thereby providing a new outlet for the export of West Virginia's vast resources of bituminous coal. Ten years later, Huntington built his first dry dock in Newport News. His shipyard quickly grew into an economic goliath, with the fortunes of Newport News again following closely behind. The Daily Press, owned and edited by Charles E. Thacker, soon established itself as the primary daily morning newspaper covering the Virginia Peninsula.
Thacker edited the paper from a small print shop in the basement of the First National Bank. The maiden issue's editorial column stated, "A newspaper that pleases all of its readers cannot be found this side of Utopia. It is not expected that the Daily Press will be this rara avis of the journalistic world in this respect. The publishers will endeavor, however, to make the best paper ever published on the Peninsula — a paper worthy of the growing city of Newport News." Thacker especially promised "to espouse the right and oppose the wrong wherever found."
By 1910, the Daily Press had a circulation of 1,700--still, though, less than the afternoon daily, the Times-Herald, born of a merger between two papers. Thacker eventually sold the Daily Press to bankers Henry and George Schmelz. Three years later they in turn purchased the rival Times-Herald. The two papers thereafter shared the same presses and production staffs, but their news staffs remained separate and often fiercely competitive.
Ownership changed again in 1930 when William E. Rouse bought both papers. His son-in-law, Raymond B. Bottom, was elected president of the Daily Press and business manager of the publishing company in 1931. By then circulation of the Daily Press had reached 6,100. At Bottom's death in 1953, his 57-year-old widow, Dorothy Rouse Bottom, became editor. Although she began with no editorial and little business experience, she ably guided the paper for 27 years--with circulation growing from 25,810 to 58,280 during her tenure. The Bottom family continued to own the paper until 1986 when it was sold to the Chicago-based Tribune Company.
Both Dorothy Rouse Bottom and her husband helped launch the Virginia Press Association. Alumni of note for the Daily Press include Tony Snow. Editor at 27, Snow became a nationally syndicated columnist and later White House press secretary under George W. Bush. Still published today under the Tribune Company, the Daily Press has a daily circulation of more than 80,000.