25 years ago, our Sunday paper made its debut!

April 15, 2007|By JAKE WOMER

On April 18, 1982, the Herald-Mail was loaded with local content, but nuclear disarmament seemed to be the dominant topic in the paper.

An Associated Press story started this way: "President Reagan said yesterday that the United States and the Soviet Union must negotiate a joint nuclear arms reduction to 'end this threat of doomsday which hangs over this world.'"

Next to that story was one about the State Department's stance on the arms race. The headline: "State rejects nuclear freeze."

A local story about an event called Ground Zero Week held a speculative account of the fallout if a 1-megaton warhead was dropped on Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md.


That's a heavy time capsule, but if you look for the Herald-Mail a week earlier, you'll find nothing so compelling.

On April 11, 1982, there were no headlines, no stories and, in fact, no Herald-Mail.

April 18 - 25 years ago this week - marked a sea change here - the first Sunday newspaper. The Herald-Mail Co. became a seven-day-a-week news organization.

I have worked as Lifestyle editor of The Herald-Mail - "The" was added to the weekend paper's name later - for four years, and I missed the creation of what would become the company's biggest paper.

To get a feel for what it was like, I asked some of the staff members who were here then.

Publisher John League, a reporter at the time, told me it was a heady time that invigorated the newshounds here because you can't be a true newspaper for just six days. The news doesn't stop, and a newspaper can't take a day off if it intends to truly inform its readers.

The addition changed the way we do our jobs, League said.

The Sunday newspaper was put together by the same staff that had been putting together six papers per week. Planning became paramount.

Rather than coming to work to cover the breaking news of the day, editors and reporters had to dig for additional in-depth stories and features. One of my predecessors had to guide a new Sunday section. Production departments that previously did not work Saturday nights had to juggle new schedules.

The Herald-Mail Co. publishes two papers - The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail. The newspapers, once separate, merged in 1920, but at the time of the first Sunday paper, the company maintained separate staffs and weekday publications. The Morning Herald staff was responsible for the Sunday paper at first.

Reporter Marlo Barnhart, who was a Daily Mail reporter at the time, shares a little about what it was like:

"There were a lot of features, local and otherwise, in that new edition as I recall. Most of the local stories were generated by The Morning Herald staff.

"As the Sunday paper began to grow, there was a call for Daily Mail reporters to contribute feature stories if we wanted to. My friend and fellow reporter, the late Franca Lewis, and I used to volunteer to write stories for the Sunday edition. We also were eager to participate in the rotation that meant working occasional Saturdays and getting a weekday off.

"At that time, Franca and I both had children in school and we enjoyed having a weekday off from time to time.

"Eventually, the two staffs were consolidated, and all reporters were expected to produce stories for the Sunday edition."

As part of the push for new content, photographer Kevin Gilbert wrote a column about canoeing for the first Sunday edition. It was about how to paddle the whitewater section of the Potomac River in an open canoe. Photo Chief David Cottingham, an antiques collector, began writing a regular antiques column, which continued for years.

Of course, the paper increased the workload of the photography staff, which also found itself adjusting to color printing capabilities around the same time.

Gilbert also remembers the press run early in the morning of April 18, 1982:

"Jim Schurz, publisher and member of the family which owns the company, was in the pressroom for the first copy of the new Sunday paper. The press rolled around 1 a.m., and a small crowd of reporters, editors and production people watched the birth of a new paper. I photographed the printing of what was probably the Herald-Mail's most anticipated and well-attended press run."

Jake Womer is Lifestyle editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2340, or by e-mail at

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