For more than 70 years, The Daily Item has provided news for its hometown of Sunbury and the Valley as a whole.|
On July 1, 1937, The Daily Item was born as a result of the merger of The Sunbury Daily and the Evening Item. Though both newspapers had been in existence since the mid to late 1800s, they had to merge after a flood in 1936 changed their outlooks. The Sunbury Daily was the city's first daily newspaper and it had been in existence since 1872 when Jacob Eichholtz and William L. Dewart began publishing it. The Evening Item had been in existence since 1893.
The merger resulted in healthy circulation gains within a few years. At the time of the merger, combined circulation was 12,000. Within a few years, it went to 20,000. The newspaper now has a circulation of almost 25,000 daily or 27,000. For years, The Daily Item was owned by Sunbury area businessmen Harry H. Haddon Sr., Bassie A. Beck and Lewis Dewart III.
Haddon served as president and managing editor and Beck was treasurer and general manager. Dewart was business manager and a corporate officer until his death in 1953. His widow Henrietta B. Dewart, and son, Lewis IV, served as corporate directors after his death. On April 15, 1970, it became an affiliate of Ottaway Newspapers Inc. of Campbell Hall, N.Y. Ottaway is a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company Inc. The Daily Item became the group's ninth paper.
At the time of the purchase, Haddon was president and treasurer, Beck's widow, the late Nita K. Beck, was a corporate director, and Lewis Dewart IV was vice president. Dewart ended his career with the newspaper as production manager.
In the following two years, under the tutelage of publisher F. Philip Blake, some departments were reorganized and operations were upgraded. However, the Ottaway policy of local autonomy and editorial independence prevailed, and The Daily Item became an even better hometown newspaper serving Northumberland, Union, Snyder and Montour counties.
In 1972, Blake left The Daily Item for a promotion as vice president at Ottaway and Milton D. McLean succeeded him. McLean led massive renovations in 1976, including converting the newspaper to a totally computerized system for the news and photocomposition departments.
By 1979, it had become necessary to expand press capacity. Construction began on a 15,000 square-foot facility at Raspberry Avenue and Awl Street.
In 1981, The Daily Item received national and international attention when the newspaper installed a 10-foot in diameter dish on top of the building at Market and Second streets. This dish, which receives wire news from The Associated Press, faces southwest and picks up signals from a satellite 22,300 miles above the equator. Its installation cost $10,000 and The Associated Press handles operations and maintenance.
Following McLean's death in 1986, Donald P. Micozzi was named publisher.
The newspaper hit major landmarks in 1987 and 1988: the Saturday edition was converted from an afternoon to morning newspaper and the newspaper was converted to a seven-day publication cycle with a new Sunday morning edition. In the spring of 1990, The Daily Item was redesigned to offer readers a more modern and better organized package. Also in 1994, during the early days of the Internet, The Daily Item launched its first Website to transmit local news and information to local computer users.
In 2001 under the leadership of Janet A. Tippett, president and publisher, negotiations began for the purchase of The Danville News. The Danville News became part of the Ottaway group and affiliated with The Daily Item. In 2003, the newspaper moved its microfilm archive system to the Degenstein Library in Sunbury. During 2004, the company had a new press system installed.
On Dec. 6, 2006 Community Newspaper Holding Inc. purchased The Daily Item/ The Danville News, one of six Ottaway publications purchased by the Birmingham, AL newspaper company that operates 94 daily newspapers, numerous weekly publications and broadcast stations in the U.S.
In November of 2007, Gary Grossman came onboard as publisher.
Information is from the book Rediscovery II, compiled by students at Shikellamy High School in 1982 and 1991 Ottaway employee handbook.
April 17, 2008