The Paris News has a rich heritage in Lamar County dating back to the 1800s. While not the oldest newspaper in the state, or even in the Northeast part of the state, The Paris News' history is well worth recalling.
The first newspaper in Paris was established the same year that the city of Paris was founded, but the paper had a considerably shorter life than the city.
In 1844, J. Wellington Latimer began printing The Western Star, but it was not the first paper in the vicinity. Two years earlier, Col. Charles DeMorse began publication of The Standard in Clarksville in Red River County. The Western Star struggled for four years before Latimer moved on to establish newspapers in other Texas cities.
From 1844 until the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, at least five other papers were established in Paris, to varying degrees of success. These included Coming West, a weekly started by W.J.F. Morgan, in 1852; The Lamar Inquirer, begun in 1856 by Col. Richard Peterson; and The Family Visitor, established in 1859, which was later renamed The Paris Press.
In 1869, The North Texan was founded by A.H. Boyd. The paper was subsequently acquired by a family member, Austin Pollard Boyd, who published his own newspaper, also established in 1869. Boyd merged the two operations and published a daily newspaper in Paris for the next 33 years.
After the death of A.P. Boyd in 1902, his wife and his son, Sayer, continued publication of the paper, now known as The News, until 1920, when the operation was sold to a locally organized stock company, North Texas Publishing Co.
In 1902, A.W. "Sandy" Neville, a part-time printer and novice journalist, came to work for Sayers Boyd at The Paris Morning News. He would remain with the paper until his retirement in 1956, rising through the ranks until becoming editor.
In 1916, Paris, and almost all of its downtown area, was devastated by fire. The newspaper was one of the casualties of the blaze.
The newspaper plant and its records, stretching all the way back to 1869, were lost, but the paper did not miss an issue. The day after the fire, The Paris News, its title abbreviated through haste and lack of space, and printed on a borrowed printing press on handbill-sized paper, hit the streets of the fire-ravaged town. Within a matter of days, however the paper had made arrangements to use another newspaper's presses and publication continued. A few months later, the newspaper moved into its new building on North Main Street, facing the county courthouse, which was also undergoing repairs to its gutted structure.
Within five years, The Paris Morning News moved to a new location on Lamar Avenue, where it remained for many years.
North Texas Publishing Co. sold the newspaper to Harte-Hanks, a newspaper group, in 1929. A.G. Mayse was named publisher and within a few short years the publication's format was altered and renamed The Paris Evening News, only to have its name changed once again in 1937 to The Paris News, the name by which it is known today.
The Depression of the 1930s hit Paris hard, but The Paris News weathered hard times, even printing a kind of scrip for its struggling readers. "News coin," as it was called, was generally accepted by the merchants of Paris until the banks could reopen and the scrip redeemed with cash.
In 1947, according to a clipping from the paper's archives, the first Associated Press teletype transmission in Texas was received in the offices of The Paris News.
In 1955, long-time publisher A.G. "Pat" Mayse died. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Walter W. Bassano, himself from a long-time Paris family. Bassano was succeeded in his turn by Roger Amdall in 1972, and Bill Martin in 1973, before Bassano's son, Pat Bassano, was named publisher in 1974.
On Dec. 31, 1986, Hart-Hanks sold The Paris News to Worrell Communications, which three years later sold the operation to Southern Newspapers Inc. With the new owner came a new publisher, Michael Graxiola, who served in that position until 2009, when Patrick Graham replaced Graxiola as the publisher.
In 1992, The Paris News, which had been at its downtown location since 1921, moved into new quarters on Southeast Loop 286. The move was accomplished without interruption in the publication schedule.
On Christmas Day 2001, Northeast Texas was brought to a standstill by freezing rain and sleet, which cut the power to the presses and computers at the newspaper office. In such cases, the plan would have called for moving operations to a neighboring town unaffected by the power outages and putting out a paper and bringing it back to Paris, but the ice had closed roads in all directions, making such travel far too hazardous, if not impossible. It is the only time The Paris News has missed a publication date in its many years of existence.