Virginia Newspaper Takes “Democrat” Out Of Name

My local newspaper is changing its name after more than a century:

In what seems like another sign of our troubled political times, the Fauquier Times-Democrat is deleting “Democrat” from its name after 108 years. The Warrenton paper found that having the term in the title gave the wrong impression in deeply Republican Fauquier County — the paper is neither Democratic nor Republican — and there’s no need to offend anyone because of a meaningless name, particularly the way newspapers are faring these days. Offending people with reporting and editorializing, now that’s what we’re here for.

Executive Editor Bill Walsh wrote this in yesterday’s inaugural Fauquier Times: “But in an age which is, perhaps, more shaped and informed by political identity than any other in our history, having a word in our banner that is so associated with a political party is no longer a very astute business decision. The same could be said if, for the last 24-plus years, we had been the Fauquier Times-Republican.”

The now twice-weekly paper was started in 1817, was renamed the Fauquier Democrat in 1905, and then the Times-Democrat in 1989, when it adopted the branding of its owner, the Arundel family’s Times Community Newspapers. The Arundels also own the Loudoun Times-Mirror, the Culpeper Times and the Prince William Times.

The Associated Press wrote a detailed story which notes that Fauquier has averaged a 60 percent Republican vote in the last four presidential and gubernatorial elections. Post media writer Erik Wemple spoke to Walsh for further discussion of the move.

The use of the word “Democrat” or “Republican” in a non-political sense when naming newspapers used to be quite common, and it also harkens back to an era when newspapers were explicitly partisan in a way that would likely surprise people today. Indeed it’s worth noting that when the Fauquier Democrat was first published it was in a state that was deeply Democratic and which remained so until well into the 1970s. Of course, there are other business reasons that could be motivating the decision:

Though some might say it’s a sign of our increased partisanship, it’s worth noting that newspapers have often piled up three or four names as they merged into each other, and eventually they shortened the name. We had the Washington Star-News here for awhile after the Evening Star and the Washington Daily News merged in 1972, and this very paper was The Washington Post and Times-Herald until 1973.

So, it makes some business sense to clean up the name of your product as well.

FILED UNDER: Media, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    The Associated Press wrote a detailed story which notes that Fauquier has averaged a 60 percent Republican vote in the last four presidential and gubernatorial elections.

    Considering the noted Republican antipathy towards education of any useful kind, I’m surprised there’s anyone in town who can still read.

  2. John Peabody says:

    Don’t worry, Legion, they read it on-line, increase the font size, and grab one of their home-schooled Democratic neighbors to help them with the big words. That’s for the grown-ups that have learned their ABCs.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    I’m surprised that they didn’t name-change the paper to Fauquier Times-DemocRAT. Kind of a dog whistle to the FoxNews crowd and a sure way to get more conservative subscribers.

    Wait, maybe the name change should be to Fauq’s News?

  4. Gee guys, thanks for insulting my neighbors, the vast majority of whom are hard-working, intelligent people.

  5. NickTamere says:

    If your neighbors are so intelligent why is the newspaper changing it’s name? You either buy the paper’s premise that people are somehow turned off by the name or you don’t, and if people aren’t picking up the paper for the sole reason that it has “Democrat” in the name (and don’t understand the history) then they’re….well, idiots.

  6. inhumans99 says:

    I am with Doug on this one folks, the comments are a bit mean-spirited, and not really all that funny. Having said that, I will confess that the suggestion to change the name of the paper to Fauq’s News gave me a wee bit of a laugh.

  7. John Peabody says:

    Yes, I wasn’t trying to be mean- I was just joshing with the first comment. I’m with Doug! Also, remember that the name change is also for the advertisers who may not want to buy space in the “-Democrat”. Never give the paying people a chance to avoid a buy.

  8. To be honest this paper has more problems than just its name. Like many local papers its circulation is low and advertising has dropped off significantly. It used to be a daily but now it’s just published twice a week. Almost nobody in my neighborhood seems to get it delivered (neither do I).

    Last year, the Manassas Journal-Messenger ceased publication after 140+ years of operation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Fauquier Times go the same route eventually, or just transition to a completely online operation.

  9. Electroman says:

    In the 1970s my parents were newspaper publishers; a newspaper in a neighboring county changed its name from the “Republican” to the “Republic”. This was in a very conservative county in a deeply Red state. *shrug* I don’t think it was for circulation reasons.

  10. fred says:

    Just another right-wing attack on our democrary. GOP gerrymandering actions and so many attacks on women are unconstitutional and should be challenged. So too the unprecendented actions such as Community Managers, etc, they have carried out across the country without any apparent justification and legality have gone unchallenged. Where are the ACLU and Southern Law Center and similar organizations who should be challenging the GOP and TP actions in our courts. As for the information marketplace? Gerrymandering, etc, are not sexy enough to get ratings so they do not do their jobs which is to inform but totally ignore attacks on our country.