newspapers

Almost as long as there's been an Athens, a newspaper has been here, covering happenings in the city and Henderson County.

The Athens Daily Review and about 1,200 others are being recognized through Saturday during National Newspaper Week. The theme is "Journalism matters now more than ever."

Henderson County County Judge Richard Sanders said he was introduced to newspapers at an early age.

“I started reading the newspaper when I was in about the seventh grade. That year, I had an article on the front page of the Dallas Morning News. A teacher of mine had asked a question about marijuana and wrote a letter to a pretty well-known reporter who put it on the front page."

Sanders said he reads the newspaper each day.

"They're vitally important, and we should support them," he said.

This 78th annual National Newspaper Week is a recognition of the service of newspapers and their employees across North America and is sponsored by Newspaper Association Managers.

Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ken Geeslin said newspapers also offer resources beyond the traditional print editions.

"Something I do every morning is go to the app and read through the paper. Certain articles I forward to some of the guys who work for me. That has stimulated them to look at the paper on their own."

America's first continuously-published newspaper, the Boston News-Letter, published its first issue on April 24, 1704. The Philadelphia Gazette got its start in 1728 and was bought by Dr. Benjamin Franklin and a partner a year later.

The oldest Texas newspaper of which a copy still exists is the Texas Gazette, which was printed from 1829 to 1832. The Athens Daily Review began publishing in 1885. A portion of the historical marker at the existing site of the Review reads, "Throughout its history, 'The Athens Review' has served the area as a community newspaper, encouraging community and supporting projects of benefit to the area. Devoted to the development and progress of Athens and Henderson County and their people, the newspaper has been an important element in the area's heritage."

Henderson County Historical Commission Chair Sarah Jane Brown said the commission has microfilm for many of the old copies of the newspaper.

"Dr. Robert Strain did a wonderful job in doing this," she said. "One of the women who helped him do it, Cathy Spoon, works for the district clerk's office. They're a great resource for anyone doing genealogy and trying to trace their family. It's also important for anyone doing research on the town."