Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Staff of the Leader Times Plants a Rose Bush

From the John Holly Williams Collection, LLF Library
Two men and three women plant a rose bush on March 19, 1958, at the Brookhaven Leader Times.  

The library caption has them as unidentified, but the woman in the black dress is Sis Brennan, my first real boss in the world of journalism.  The shorter woman is Flo Mitchell, long-time linotype operator and typesetter, and next to her is Nella Wade. (Help is needed with the identities of the other two.)

I chose to post this photograph because yesterday it was announced that the surviving town newspaper, the Daily Leader, which has been owned by the Jacobs family since 1958, has been sold.  See this link to learn more.

As the memories swirled yesterday, I recalled the interview on file of Charles Jacobs at the Lincoln County Library, conducted by John Coke in December 1991, regarding the history of the local newspapers and how Chuck Jacobs, a native of Chicago, and Mrs. Jacobs came into play. Here is an excerpt of that bit of town history:

"Jacobs: After getting out of the service during World War II, I got started in the newspaper business. I went to Meredith, New Hampshire, and worked on what they called the G.I. Bill of Rights, the government paid half of your salary. The salary was, I think, sixty dollars a week. After a year working for the paper it became for sale and I bought the paper with the G.I. Bill of Rights, they guaranteed a four percent loan. I stayed there for five years, sold out and went to Wauseon, Ohio. With the money I made on the sale of the Meredith News, I bought the Wauseon Republican. I stayed there six years and moved to Sarasota, Florida. I worked in the advertising department of the Bradenton Herald. Newspapers are sold through brokers just like real estate brokers. A broker got hold of me and told me about Brookhaven, Mississippi. I came up and looked at it and eventually decided to take over the paper. 

Coke: Who was running the paper then? Who was running it and who owned it? 
Jacobs: It was owned by a man named Joe Lee. Dalton Brady held the note on it; Lee lost the paper, he forfeited on his loan. I picked it up from there. At that time there were two papers in Brookhaven, the Lincoln County Advertiser and the Leader Times. I had the Leader Times. It was the older paper. We had a dog-eat-dog battle and eventually we merged the two papers. Bill Lauderdale owned the Advertiser. He died six months afterwards. Eventually I was able to acquire the Lauderdale interest in what had become the Leader Advertiser. We dropped the Times and became the Leader Advertiser. After a number of years, it was 1968 we started the Daily Leader, we published five days a week. This is almost 1992 and it's been going since 1968. 
Coke: How often was the paper published before you took it over? 
Jacobs: The Advertiser was a weekly and the Leader Times was published twice a week. The Leader-Advertiser continued as a semi-weekly. 
Coke: When you got the paper, what was your general policy as to how you would operate the paper, what were you trying to accomplish ... can you tell us a little along those lines? 
Jacobs: Newspapers have changed considerably in my period of being in the newspaper business. We've gone from letterpress, which was the old hot metal, hand type, linotype to photojournalism and offset printing. The paper, at this point, is completely computerized, all the accounting, the bookkeeping, production of the newspaper. Mr. B. T. Hobbs, who started the newspaper, would never recognize it. It's entirely different from that time. 
Coke: I believe your wife [Patricia Patterson Jacobs] was involved in the paper from the very beginning? 
Jacobs: She introduced photography which was very important. At one time, photography was seldom used in small newspapers. She got into photography and that was one way we forced the Advertiser into a merger. Our paper became much more popular and they decided to go along with us. To this day, photography is very important to the newspaper. 
Coke: In other words, you out photographed your competition. 
Jacobs: They used maybe one picture a week while we filled the paper up with local pictures. "
And, as print publications across the country struggle to survive in an electronic world, considerable changes in journalism continue on all levels ... I wish all the best to the new owners of the Daily Leader and pray they continue to serve the community as well as their predecessors, who made Brookhaven their HOME and left an indelible mark.


  1. I was among the first group of paper boys when the Leader Times switched to carriers from mail delivery. They also let me cover junior high basketball games, which gave me my first bylines and, perhaps, influenced my decision to spend 25 years in the newspaper business. I remember Pat Jacobs attending many high school events with camera.

  2. I can recall her smiling face behind a camera at school as well.