Posted on Mon. Jul. 07, 2008 - 06:00 am EDT

Steeped in history

The News-Sentinel celebrates 175 years of reporting the news

Chelsea Brune

As an anniversary celebration is in order, so too is a bit of history.

The history of The News-Sentinel is a long one — 175 years, to be exact. The story began July 6, 1833, when the first edition of The Sentinel was published. Thus was marked the beginning of the oldest continuously operating business in Allen County.

The Sentinel was established as a weekly paper and did not see much change until 1918, when it merged with another local paper, The Fort Wayne Daily News, to become The News-Sentinel, an afternoon paper.

Two years later, in 1920, Oscar Foellinger became the owner and publisher. He ran the paper until his death in 1936, after which his daughter, Helene, took over, becoming the youngest publisher in the United States.

Helene boosted newspaper sales by nearly 20 percent in just five years, increasing readership to almost 70,000 subscriptions.

In 1950, she formed a joint-operating agreement with the rival morning newspaper, The Journal Gazette. This agreement entitled both papers to share advertising sales, circulation and printing services, but kept each newspaper separately managed with different editorial staffs. That arrangement continues today under the business name Fort Wayne Newspapers.

A new building, with a new printing press and offices for both papers, was erected in 1958 at its present location of 600 W. Main St. The News-Sentinel owned 55 percent of Fort Wayne Newspapers, and Helene Foellinger served as president.

Foellinger sold The News-Sentinel in 1980 to Knight Ridder Inc., along with The News-Sentinel's 55 percent of Fort Wayne Newspapers. During the 1980s The News-Sentinel was the dominant newspaper in Fort Wayne, with a daily circulation of more than 60,000.

In 1983, the newspaper received a Pulitzer Prize for best local coverage for its reporting of the flood of 1982.

The News-Sentinel launched a Web site in 1996,, which includes stories from the day's paper, as well as a search function for previous stories and links to other Fort Wayne Web sites.

The joint-operating agreement between The News-Sentinel and The Journal Gazette was renegotiated in 2003. Knight Ridder increased its ownership of Fort Wayne Newspapers from 55 percent to 75 percent, with a value of $42 million. The agreement was set to last through 2050.

In 2005, however, Knight Ridder put its newspapers up for sale, and they were bought in 2006 by McClatchy Co. However, McClatchy immediately put The News-Sentinel up for sale, and it was bought on June 27, 2006, by Ogden Newspapers of Wheeling, W.Va. Michael J. Christman was named publisher.

Last year, Fort Wayne Newspapers completed a building to house a new printing press — a $35 million project. The press, which can print 90,000 papers an hour, is one of the fastest in the country. It has allowed The News-Sentinel to print a full-color paper.

After 175 years, The News-Sentinel has reason for celebration, so cheers to 175 years, and many more to come.

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