Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 25, 2006

About Us


Our mission ...

We are dedicated to providing our communities with a trusted source of useful information and pledge to do whatever it takes to satisfy our customers. Your newspaper... Our commitment.

We are here ...

Located in the northeastern corner of Kentucky, on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River.

Our History ...

The Daily Independent in Ashland traces its history to Dec. 17, 1896, as a continuously published daily newspaper.

The first edition, however, appeared in a different city and under a different nameplate.

There were predecessors in Ashland - both weeklies and dailies - but today few records remain to properly document the earliest newspapers, their editors and publication dates.

The newspaper that was to become The Daily Independent appeared initially in Catlettsburg under the nameplate, the Tri-State Independent.

The publisher was G.F. Friel, and with that first edition on Dec. 17, 1896, Friel launched an operation that was to continue in Boyd¹s county seat for the next four years.

In 1900, Friel was persuaded to move the newspaper to Ashland.

The equipment was set up in a building on Greenup Avenue between 11th and 12th streets, and eight to 10 women were employed to set type by hand. The newspaper¹s first press was fed by hand and driven by a water motor.

Subsequently, the now-renamed Ashland Daily Independent absorbed the Ashland Daily News and the Ashland Commercial.

In 1910, Friel sold half-interest in the Ashland Independent Publishing Co. to Colonel B.F. Forgey, who had been associated with the newspaper the previous seven years as an editor.

Forgey was a native of Lawrence County, Ohio, and during these early years at The Independent maintained his residence in Ironton, Ohio, where he also edited the Ironton Register.

This division of responsibilities between both sides of the river was not destined to last. Forgey soon turned his full attention to the operation in Ashland and became the person chiefly responsible for the growth of the newspaper.

In 1912, The Independent constructed its own building on 17th Street and the newspaper was moved to that location, where it remains today. The size of the building was doubled during remodeling in 1925 and has more than redoubled over the years as operations have expanded into adjacent structures.

The stock of the Ashland Independent Publishing Co. was purchased in 1921 by the families of Forgey and James T. Norris Sr., who shortly before had moved to Ashland from Augusta.

Ashland Publishing Co. was formed with Forgey as editor of The Independent and president of the company, and Norris as associate editor and vice-president.

The two remained in control of the newspaper for more than 40 years. In 1952, Forgey became chairman of the board of the company and Norris was elevated to president of the company and editor of the newspaper.

The Independent grew with the city and only on one occasion was its publication suspended. This occurred during the record flood of 1937. The swollen Ohio River backed 40 inches of water into the newspaper¹s ground floor, and operation of the press was impossible.

Until local operations could resume, The Independent rolled off the presses of the Big Sandy News in Louisa.

With the floodwaters receding The Independent and the community began the process of recovery, and growth for both continued. The following year, the newspaper purchased a new Duplex press with 28-page capacity and other, more modern equipment.

The coverage area expanded.

News bureaus were maintained at various times in Catlettsburg, Russell and Flatwoods in Greenup County, Paintsville in Johnson County, Grayson in Carter County, and, currently, Morehead in Rowan County.

In 1971, The Independent converted from letterpress to offset printing, and operations were expanded into an adjoining building to accommodate a new seven-unit, 56-page press.

The newspaper¹s format went from eight narrow columns on each page to six wider columns per page.

Six years later, a computer system was added in the editorial and classified departments, bringing the newspaper into the electronic age as video terminals replaced typewriters.

The years also brought changes in personnel. The positionings of 1952, when Forgey became chairman and Norris editor, also included the naming of C.E. Forgey, the chairman¹s son, as vice- president and managing editor, and Robert McCullough Sr., Forgey¹s son-in-law, as associate editor.

Colonel Forgey died in 1960. Norris became chairman of the board and McCullough president and editor, positions he held until his death in 1972.

McCullough¹s successor as president and editor was James T. Norris Jr., who served in those capacities until May of 1979 when the newspaper was purchased by Ottaway Newspapers Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company Inc.

When this sale was final, Robert McCullough Jr. was named publisher of the newspaper, a position he held until 1984 when he was succeeded by John W. Del Santo, who had been general manager.

Editor of the newspaper going into the sale was Paul W. Sierer, who had been an editorial employee since the mid-1950s. Sierer continued as editor until his retirement in 1989.

His successor was Wickliffe R. Powell, who had worked at the newspaper periodically since 1963.

Del Santo and Powell both left the company when they accepted early retirement packages in July of 1998 in what was part of a group-wide staff reduction plan for Ottaway Newspapers.

In addition to the publisher and the editor, 14 others accepted the early retirement offers and left the newspaper July 17.

Joe Vanderhoof, publisher at Mankato, Minn., and former general manager of The Daily Independent, became publisher in August. Vanderhoof, a Flatwoods native, had started his career at The Daily Independent and served as assistant controller and circulation manager before two stints in Mankato, one as general manager and the other as publisher.

Mike Reliford, a long-time employee and former sports editor, was named editor.

Vanderhoof's guidance helped solidify the transition already in progress to become a more electronic-based, computerized production, both in composing and advertising. He also was responsible for the newspaper's full-time venture into cyberspace as the newspaper launched its website - www.dailyindependent.com.

Vanderhoof served as president and publisher until March 2002, when the newspaper was purchased by Community Newspapers Holding Inc. (CNHI). His successor was Roger Coleman, who was at the helm when the newspaper endured many changes.

In May 2003, the newspaper changed to a morning delivery cycle, after being a weekday-evening newspaper for more than 100 years. The newspaper also dropped the "daily" and "Sunday" from its masthead to emerge as simply "The Independent," with an expanded local news section. The newspaper also changed in physical appearance, as it conformed to size standards already adopted by many newspapers across the nation.

In October 2003 Eddie Blakeley was named as publisher. Blakeley had served in the CNHI group for several years, most recently as publisher at The Portsmouth Times, as well as overseeing many other CNHI properties.

In June 2004 the newspaper re-vamped it's cyberspace operation to unveil a new, more user-friendly website.

In January 2006, Mike Reliford was named general manager.

In April, 2006 Stan Champer was promoted to associated editor, and long-time Sports Editor Mark Maynard was promoted to managing editor. Rick Greene, who worked in the sports department before leaving to take the position of editor at the Portsmouth Times, returned to The Independent to take the position of sports editor.

Today, The Independent has 95 full- and part-time employees and a circulation of more than 21,000.