The Pocono Record is the daily newspaper serving Monroe County and lower Pike County in northeastern Pennsylvania. The Pocono Record publishes every morning of the year, holidays included, and circulates throughout the region known as the Poconos.
Our business offices and newsroom are located at 511 Lenox St. in south Stroudsburg, between Park Avenue and Broad Street off Exit 307 of Interstate 80. Our distribution center is located on Route 715 in Tannersville, about a mile west from Exit 299 of Interstate 80. The paper is printed by the Times Herald Record in Middletown, N.Y.
The newspaper officially dates its start to April 2, 1894, when George Hughes printed the first Stroudsburg Daily Times, the first daily newspaper in the county.
How the Daily Times came to be, and how it evolved eventually into today's Pocono Record, is a lengthy story convoluted by politics, a confusing number of acquisitions and mergers, and a twisting trail of new newspapers being started and old ones being folded.
Until 1894, local journalists had followed the traditional path of rural areas around the country, relying on partisan weekly newspapers to chronicle the life of their communities. Daily newspapers were the province of cities, not towns like Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, then the largest municipalities in the county.
Monroe County's first newspaper was a weekly named the Stroudsburg Gazette. It was published by John P. Robeson & Co., but little is known about this early journalistic enterprise.
More is known about the Gazette's successor, The Monroe Democrat. This weekly was founded in 1836 by James Rafferty, who came from Wilkes-Barre.
The choice of the name was calculated, since most of the area residents at the time favored the Democratic Party. Naturally, they favored the newspaper as well, which found few arguments for its political positions and a lot of business for its print show, which quickly cornered the market on public printing.
Another weekly sprang up in 1840 under the name Jeffersonian-Republican, and took positions opposite those of the Democrat. Its founder was Theodore Schoch. He shortened the name of the paper in 1841, and went on to publish The Jeffersonian for 59 years, until his death in 1900.
The governing principle of newspapers at the time was the freedom to print the owner's own opinions and only those news items fitting with those opinions. Now newspapers take an independent stance in their news column, striving for objectivity and publishing all sides of any given issue.
There wasn't nearly as much local news for the newspaper to focus on then. With a sparse population and rudimentary government, most local news items concerned themselves with accidents and the comings and goings of local residents and their kin.
There were no news wires or news services at the time. What has happening in the nation's capital filtered down slowly to the local news outlet, and by then was colored by opinion and altered by the mouth-to-mouth process of transmission. That left plenty of room for raging denunciations of the opposition party, even in a four-page publication devoted mostly to advertisements about health cures and missing livestock.
How the early newspapers looked
Both newspapers, indeed most newspapers of the day, looked much the same.
Six columns wide, they were clogged with tiny type and advertisements of all sorts. The front page was the best display space, and so that's where the important advertising went: Legal advertisements, sheriff's sales and the like, ads for hotels, merchants, tailors, livery stables and timetables for the old Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroads.
One quaint touch was the practice of reporting how many letters were mailed out and received at the local post office in any given week, and also a listing of mail for whom mail had arrived but which still lay unclaimed.
The old weeklies were also full of gossip, the kind of stuff that would land today's newspaper in court for libel.
One example is the story of a Delaware Water Gap farmer who had a wagon accident. The Monroe Democrat reported that hew was driving his wagon home late at night, having stayed overlong at a party, and was in a tipsy state. The hose shied and ran, and the wagon tipped, breaking the farmer's leg.
Not a detail was omitted, including the company the farmer kept, the anger and anguish of his wife, the estimated amount of spirits he had imbibed.
The Monroe Democrat changed hands several times in its first years. Rafferty sold to Luther J. Ringwalt, who later transferred The Democrat to the firm of Ringwalt and Schoonover, the latter member being Barnet Schoonover of Middle Smithfield Township.
David Keller of Stroudsburg then published The Democrat for about five years before selling out to John DeYoung in 1856.
In the ensuing years, DeYoung of The Democrat and Schoch of The Jeffersonian engaged in flaming rhetoric against each other's newspapers, each editor lambasting the other for his "mistaken ideas and politics."
DeYoung and Schoch continued to dig at one another through the election of Abraham Lincoln over Stephen A. Douglas, but the old journalistic adversaries at last found an issue they agreed on when it came to the preservation of the Union.
And never again were Monroe County readers to be treated to quite the same brand of volatile fireworks that entertained or enraged them on newspaper-reading day.
The Jeffersonian continued under Schoch until his death in 1900.
The Monroe Democrat continued under DeYoung until about 1866, when a rapid series of ownership changes began. Owners of The Democrat included A.O. Greenwald, Thomas McIlhaney, and R.S. Staples. In 1882, it was sold to B.F. Morey, Joseph Shull and Milton Heller, who also published the rival Monroe Journal.
Hughes makes a daily
George C. Hughes and William Gulick founded the weekly Stroudsburg Times in 1888 as a politically independent publication. By 1890, Hughes, who ran newspapers in New Jersey and Pen Argyl, was the sole proprietor of the weekly, and he soon decided there was enough news of note going on to warrant more frequent publication.
The Stroudsburg Daily Times, first published on Apr. 2, 1894, focused on Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg boroughs, since that was where the population was centered.
Hughes, in the inaugural edition's editorial, promised an independent voice that "shall endeavor to present the daily occurrences of both boroughs in as full and as readable manner as the news will permit, and whatever appears in the columns will be both reliable and truthful."
A standing feature was a front page column "Around the Boroughs," which labeled itself "Newsy Items of Interest for Easy Digestion, Some Sharp, Snappy Shots."
(Newspapers in those days used many layers of headlines to draw in their readers. "Around the Borough" continued to describe itself as "Daily Doings for Daily Readers Boiled Down for Quick Perusal, Personal Notes and Nubbins Gleaned by Our Staff of Reporters and Correspondents.")
Snippets in this column ranged from advertising ("We are selling the best shingles in the state at $3.25 per 1000") to simple observations ("Delaware River is filled with ice") to social notes ("Harvey F. Smoyer of Philadelphia is spending New Year with J.W. Angle.")
There was also the occasional clarification: "There is no truth to the report that Daniel VanWhy, of near East Stroudsburg, is dead. He is, however, in poor health."
In the inaugural edition's editorial, Hughes wrote that "the columns of the Times will always be open for the righting of wrongs and displaying any ideas or any subject proving of interest to our population."
From the Times to the Record
The path between the Stroudsburg Daily Times and the present-day Pocono Record is a convoluted one. Hughes sold The Daily Times around the turn of the century to A. Mitchell Palmer, who ultimately was to gain notoriety as U.S. attorney general under President Woodrow Wilson.
When Schoch died in 1900, Hughes bought The Jeffersonian, and continued its Republican legacy, eventually being joined by another Hughes creation, the weekly East Stroudsburg Press. Hughes also devoted much of his energy to developing the Hughes Printing Co., which operated successfully in East Stroudsburg for many years.
Both The Monroe Democrat and the Monroe Journal continued publishing until 1907, when the newspapers' printing plant was destroyed by fire. Morey sold the papers to Hughes.
The name "Record" first appeared on the weekly "Monroe Record" in 1908, published by a corporation called the Monroe Publishing Co. A year later, the corporation also started The Daily Record, issuing both as Democratic papers.
In 1913, Hughes founded a new daily called The Morning Press, but sold it and the East Stroudsburg Press in 1915.
Until 1920, The Monroe Democrat, The Daily Record and The Daily Times published both weekly and daily editions. Nelson Frantz bought The Daily Times that year, and the two papers were consolidated under the name Record and Times-Democrat, and published as an afternoon daily.
Frantz bought out The Morning Press in 1924, folding it into the afternoon Record.
The Hughes family, solidly ensconced in the printing business and still very much in tune with the Republican view of things, reacted to the Democratic publishing monopoly by starting another newspaper, The Morning Sun, in 1925. The Sun went head-to-head with the Record and Times-Democrat for 13 years. After struggling through several years of economic hard times during the Depression, the Sun finally sold out to the Record in 1938.
The Record, however, found that readers and advertisers had liked the morning publication of the Sun, and it became a morning newspaper that same year.
Nelson Frantz sold The Record in 1944 to Edward J. Breece, who held the paper for just two years.
The modern era
The Daily Record entered into its modern-day history in 1946, when James J. Ottaway Sr. bought the paper to expand his growing community newspaper company. Ottaway, who owned a summer home in Buck Hill Falls, also owned the Endicott, N.Y., Bulletin and the Oneonta, N.Y., Star at the time.
The Daily Record joined a group of newspapers that today, as Dow Jones Local Media Group, includes 15 dailies, 12 Sunday papers, 18 weeklies and more than 20 other publications in nine states. The Daily Record was renamed The Pocono Record in 1965 to better reflect the area it served. It also marked the change from the old hot-lead, letterpress printing to modern photocomposition and an offset press.
In 1970, Ottaway Newspapers merged with Dow Jones Inc., publisher of The Wall Street Journal and Barron's. Ottaway headquartered in Middletown, N.Y., continues today as Dow Jones Local Media Group. Each DJLMG newspaper continues to be published and edited locally, and each operates under a policy of autonomy intended to preserve the quality of service in the community it serves.
"Autonomy is not a license to run a poor newspaper, but the freedom and responsibility to publish a great one," explained Jim Ottaway Jr., who succeeded his father as chief executive officer in 1976.
Jim Ottaway Jr., a former editor of the Pocono Record, is now retired as chairman of the board of DJLMG.
In 1989, the newspaper dropped "The" from its flag, and today remains officially known as "Pocono Record." In 1992, we opened a new production facility in Tannersville, where the paper was printed each morning until January 2009. It is now printed by our sister paper, the Times Herald Record in Middletown, N.Y.
The newspaper today
Pocono Record remains committed to the spirit of local journalism and to serving the information, entertainment and advertising needs of our readers in Monroe County and lower Pike County. We continue to follow the basic standards of integrity, fairness and accuracy in publishing that were established many years ago.
Here is the Pocono Record's mission statement:
"As the leading source of information in the Poconos, we will provide an accurate, balanced and fair news report, and exercise leadership, professionalism and social responsibility for the betterment of our community."
"We will provide our employees with a safe and fair working environment while encouraging participation and providing opportunities for professional growth."
"We will grow our revenue and profits through sound business practices, exemplary customer service and development of new products."
Those standards now reach into our Internet operation, which began in 1997, and in an assortment of new publications which reach out to specific local readers.
Sage, for readers over age 50, is published monthly. The Eastern Poconos Community News is published weekly, specifically for readers in Smithfield, Middle Smithfield, Price and Lehman townships.