Roanoke Daily Times
Place of publication: Roanoke, VA
Started as "an independent Democratic paper devoted to the material and political interests of Roanoke and Southwest Virginia,"the Roanoke Daily Times and its successors have kept watch on the capital of the Blue Ridge for more than 120 years. Printed daily, except Monday, the paper dates back to a time when the Roanoke was known as Big Lick because of the nearby salt marshes that attracted wild animals. The town shifted its location to accommodate the construction of the Norfolk & Western Railroad, and in 1882, Big Lick changed its name to Roanoke, a name derived from the Native American word "Rawrenock" for shell beads used in trade. Roanoke quickly became a boomtown as it grew faster than any city in the South and indeed was the fourth fastest growing city in the nation. Roanoke grew so rapidly, it was said to be magic, thus earning its nickname: "Magic City."
Founded by M. H. Claytor in 1886, the Roanoke Daily Times was the area's first daily paper serving the communities of Roanoke, Salem, and Vinton. In his first editorial, Claytor proclaimed, "the Roanoke Daily Times is purely a business enterprise. It will be conducted for the purpose of making a support for its publishers." From the start, however, the paper had financial problems. Claytor sold the Times a few years later to The Roanoke Publishing Company, under the direction of Herbert Janvrin Browne. The new guard ushered a wide reorganization poised to turn a little community news sheet into a real journalistic endeavor like a big city paper. To enlarge and improve the scope of the Times, Browne brought journalists from Washington, D. C., dropped "Daily" from its name, and installed a brand new Hoe Simplex Press. Still under financial stress, the Roanoke Times went up for sale again. In 1894 Claytor bought it back and hired its original editor, J. Waddy Davis, a physician turned journalist.
In 1901, Claytor purchased the Evening News in Roanoke and conducted one of the first experiments in operating competing morning and afternoon papers out of the same newsroom. This arrangement continued until 1977 when the two papers merged. Claytor departed the newspaper business in 1909 when he sold the Times to a syndicate of Roanoke businessmen led by J. B. Fishburn, later the president of the National Exchange Bank. The Fishburn family would control the paper for close to six decades. The Times bought its last competitor, the Evening World in 1913 and combined it with the Evening News under the flag of the World-News.
The Norfolk-based Landmark Communications bought the Times-World Corporation in 1969 from the Fishburns. The two daily editions were sold under the name of the Roanoke Times & World News which reached a circulation of more than 120,000 in the early 1980s. In 1991 the afternoon edition was shut down. The paper began designing entire pages on computers in 1994, ending the long practice of composing pages with knives and hot wax. Today, the daily circulation of the Roanoke Times exceeds 100,000. Landmark still owns the paper, along with the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk and the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina.