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Minden Press-Herald

File:Revised photo of Minden Press-Herald in Minden, LA IMG 0825.JPG
The Minden Press-Herald building opened in March 1986 on Gleason Street in downtown Minden, Louisiana, in a renovated former grocery store building.[1]

The Minden Press-Herald is a Monday-Friday daily newspaper published in Minden, the parish seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, by Specht Newspapers, Inc. It serves the Minden and Webster Parish circulation area with mostly local news.

The first newspaper by this name in Minden was founded in 1895. The newspaper has evolved through many manifestations. In 1989, the Louisiana Press Association presented The Press-Herald with the annual "Freedom of Information Award" for its work the previous year in maintaining public access to city meetings and records.

Original Minden Herald

The earliest use of the name Minden Herald dates to 1895, after publisher/printer/editor William Jasper Blackburn, an Arkansas native, settled in Minden, then a part of Claiborne Parish, and established the newspaper. He was a Democrat, a supporter of the Union, and opposed slavery. He was mayor of Minden for a single one-year term from May 1855 to May 1856. Blackburn published his Minden Herald for about six years. It was not the first newspaper in Minden. That distinction was held by the former Minden Iris, which was established in 1848 at the same time as the founding of neighboring Bienville Parish.[2]

The Minden political climate shifted to favor the Know Nothing Party, which repudiated "non-native" ideas, and Blackburn moved to Homer, where he founded the Homer Iliad newspaper. During the American Civil War, Blackburn published in opposition to the Confederate States of America. Tried in Confederate District Court in Shreveport, Blackburn escaped conviction by a single vote on charges of having produced counterfeit Confederate currency. Had the conviction verdict been unanimous, he would have been hanged.[2]

Blackburn remained in Homer during the Reconstruction era. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Republican, serving from 1868 to 1869. Thereafter, he served as a member of the Louisiana State Senate until he was defeated in 1878 by A Democrat of the emerging Redeemer government. Blackburn relocated to Little Rock, where he published the Arkansas Republican.[3]

Harper Brothers and Lowe

The name The Minden Herald was revived briefly during Reconstruction, but few, if any, issues of the newspaper of that period are extant. A quotation from the Shreveport Times, which began publication in 1871, refers in 1872 to The Minden Herald. A later The Minden Herald was published in 1924 under the direction of printer Clifton Harper (1902–1982), a native of Mississippi. Harper attended Minden High School and worked at another publication called The Webster Signal.

The Signal was published by Thomas Wafer Fuller, who served as a member of the Louisiana State Senate from 1896 to 1900 and as Webster Parish school superintendent from 1908 to 1920. After Fuller's death in 1920, his widow, the former Alma Bright, continued publishing The Signal for several years thereafter.

Clifton Harper studied printing under the direction of his brother, William Harper. He worked for the new Minden Tribune, edited for a time by J. Frank Colbert. He served as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1920–1925 and the mayor of Minden for a single two-year term from 1944 to 1946.[4]

Clifton Harper left Minden in 1924 to attend Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and then Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. For eight years he taught at the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, named for Henry W. Grady and located at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.[5] Harper and his wife, the former Myrtle Buckley (1904–1990), both completed their degrees in business administration and journalism and returned to Minden. Clifton’s brothers, William Harper (1894–1971) and Clinton Harper (1904–1978), along with Prentiss W. Lowe (1905-1992), had founded the Webster Sentinel there in October 1928. Clifton Harper joined the paper as editor.[2]

On November 17, 1949, Clifton Harper started the Minden Press and remained its publisher until 1956, when he sold the publication.[5]

On November 14, 1929, the name Minden Herald was restored by the Harper brothers and Prentiss Lowe, the fathers of the "The Herald" half of the Minden Press-Herald. At the time, The Webster Sentinel explained that the resumption of the name Minden Herald was intended to clear up confusion over another journal, The Webster Signal-Tribune, which had begun in 1926, when the The Webster Signal merged with The Minden Tribune.[2]

In May 1936, The Herald was voted the best newspaper in Louisiana by a panel that included the journalist and State Representative Rupert Peyton of Shreveport. At the time The Herald carried no "boiler-plate" news but only original local reporting. It was cited for layout, news, and editorials.[6]

Spivas’ Webster Printing Company

Under Clifton Harper’s leadership, the weekly The Minden Herald was published on Friday. His editorials called for economic growth and modernization. Harper Brothers and Lowe acquired ownership of the other local paper, the Signal-Tribune, published on Tuesday. In February 1932, the Minden Herald purchased the Webster News and changed its name to the Minden Herald and Webster News, published as a single newspaper. This arrangement continued until April 1937, when the Harper Brothers left the local newspaper market. The papers were sold to the Webster Printing Company, owned by Hubert Spiva (1899-1939) and his wife, the former Lilla Ellenor Stewart (1906-1959). Hubert Spiva was a veteran newspaperman and his wife, Lilla, daughter of the attorney Daniel W. Stewart, Sr. of Minden and a niece of William G. Stewart, namesake of the defunce William G. Stewart Elementary School in Minden, had experience in journalism. The new company ceased publication of The Signal-Tribune and issued The Webster News as a separate paper on Tuesday.[2]

After Hubert Spiva's death, Webster Printing and Lilla Spiva had sole control of the Minden newspaper market through the 1940s. In 1949, she was the only woman representative from Louisiana at the annual meeting of the National Editorial Association in Chicago, Illinois.[7]

The Spivas had a son, Tam Spiva. He became a script writer, with work on such television programs as The Brady Bunch and Gentle Ben.

In 1949, Clifton Harper returned to the local newspaper scene with his new Minden Press. He engaged in an aggressive marketing campaign and moved his publication to Thursday to have a day’s advantage on the Minden Herald. For a time, Minden was again served by three local papers: the Minden News on Monday, the Minden Press on Thursday, and the Minden Herald on Friday.[2]

Emergence of the Press-Herald

In January 1953, The Webster News was renamed The Webster Review. In October 1954, The Webster Review and the Minden Herald were consolidated into a single publication issued on Thursday in competition with The Minden Press on Monday. This change came at the same time that Major dePingre (1928–2007), a Leesville native and a Louisiana State University graduate, was hired as editor of the latest Minden Herald.

In December 1955, Webster Newspapers Corporation was formed under the direction of Tom Colten, a Detroit native, who moved to Minden from Bogalusa, where he had been business manager of the Bogalusa Daily News. After Webster Newspapers purchased The Minden Press from Harper and The Minden Herald from Mrs. Spiva, it combined the newspapers under the Minden Press-Herald name. DePingre was named editor of both the Minden Press (Monday) and the Minden Herald (Thursday). Colten served as publisher of both papers beginning with the January 1956 issues.[2]

On January 17, 1969, publisher Richard Hill announced that The Press-Herald would convert three days later from hot metal to offset printing.[8][9]A few weeks later, Hill resigned as publisher and was succeeded by Tom Kelly, a native of Winn Parish. For the preceding seven years he had published the Ruston Daily Leader and was previously the managing editor of the Jennings Daily News in Jennings in Jefferson Davis Parish.[10]

In 1989, the Louisiana Press Association presented The Press-Herald with the annual " Freedom of Information Award" for the year 1988 in recognition of the editorial staff's achievement in preventing the City of Minden from closing its meetings or restricting records from public access. The late 1980s had been a time of intense investigations into activities of the mayor, Noel "Gene" Byars, who was recalled from office in January 1989. He was subsequently convicted in the 26th Judicial Court of felony theft.[11] In the summer of 1988, Byars had ordered municipal employees not to meet with the news media without first consulting him.[12]

Specht Newspapers, Inc.

In 1965, Colten sold the newspapers to Richard Hill. Colten became the executive director of the Minden Chamber of Commerce and was elected the next year as mayor, serving two consecutive four-year terms. While Colten had hoped to establish a daily newspaper, that goal was not achieved until July 18, 1966, when the current Minden Press-Herald made its debut. The Press-Herald was sold to Specht Newspapers, Inc. It publishes the newspaper at 203 Gleason Street in Minden, the site of a former grocery store, along with the Bossier Press-Tribune in Bossier City.[2] Chipley Newspapers of Pensacola, Florida, is a subsidiary of Specht Newspapers.[13]

Specht Newspapers was headed by David Arthur Specht, Sr. (October 29, 1945 – April 14, 2011), a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A son of the late Arthur and Mary Specht, David Specht moved to Minden in 1968 and became the advertising manager and soon thereafter the publisher[14] of The Minden Press-Herald, eventually becoming the owner. Specht thereafter spent several years publishing newspapers in Alabama, Kentucky, and Florida, before he founded Specht Newspapers, Inc., in 1983.[15]

Specht also owned Webster Printing Company in Minden. He died at the age of sixty-five after a lengthy illness. Specht was survived by his wife, the former Cheryl Milford of Minden; a son, David A. Specht, Jr., of Minden, the current president of Specht Newspapers, Inc., and his wife, Tina Specht; two grandsons, Zachary and Joshua Specht; sister, Melanie Montgomery of Tallahassee, Florida, and brother, William Specht of Shreveport.[15]

After five months as publisher, Tom Kelly returned in August 1969 to The Ruston Daily Leader.[14] In 2014, he was publishing the monthly The Piney Woods Journal in Winn Parish, Louisiana, with a focus on the timber industry.

Divisions of the Press-Herald

The Minden Press-Herald is divided into:

  • Local News
  • Community News
  • Opinion
  • Sports
  • Obituaries
  • Good News (includes religion)
  • Classified
  • The 318 Mix - A weekly entertainment section.

The Press-Herald's online version can be found at

Current and former Press-Herald staffers

File:Juanita Agan of Minden, LA.jpg
Press-Herald columnist Juanita Agan died in 2008; her old columns are still carried in the newspaper on a limited basis.
  • John Agan (born 1958) is the former author of "Echoes of the Past", a periodic column on local and state history, much of it from the 19th century. He is a professor at Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City and the official Webster Parish historian.
  • Juanita Murphy Agan (1923–2008) wrote a periodic column "Cameos", which focuses on "older times" of Americana. She was the mother of John Agan.
  • Josh Beavers (born c. 1979), former publisher and editor, resigned 2014.[16] A native of Claiborne Parish, Beavers was born to Dwight Alan Beavers (1948–2008) and the former Sheila McKenzie; in 2013, he was named vice president of Specht Newspapers, Inc.[17]
  • Derwood Alexander Brett (born 1947), originally from Camden, Arkansas, reared in Farmerville, Louisiana; advertising director in the early 1970s; publisher in the early 1990s, resident of Mt. Ida in Montgomery County, Arkansas[18]
  • Jerry Byrd, sports editor c. 1992; joined The Press-Herald after having written 2,131 consecutive columns for the defunct Shreveport Journal,[19] later sports editor for Bossier Press-Tribune
  • Gene Clark (born 1935), originally from Franklin Parish, became managing editor in February 1974, having previously been at the Denham Springs News in Denham Springs in Livingston Parish. He had earlier worked at the Press-Herald sports desk.[20]
  • Barbara Colley, once edited the advertising section of the Press-Herald, now known as a romance and mystery novelist based in the New Orleans metro area.
  • Bonnie Jean Culverhouse, formerly Bonnie Koskie (born 1955), was the managing editor until April 2015.
File:Journanlist Charles E. Maple.jpg
Charles E. Maple, a graduate of Texas Tech University who was reared in Claude, Texas, was the news editor of The Minden Press and The Minden Herald from 1960 to 1966.[21]

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  1. ^ Minden Press-Herald, March 23, 1986
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h John Agan, "Minden Press-Herald story goes back more than 150 years", Minden Press-Herald, 2007
  3. ^ BLACKBURN, William Jasper - Biographical Information
  4. ^ "Official Returns Given for Minden Primary Election", Minden Herald, April 14, 1944, p. 1
  5. ^ a b "Clifton Harper Services Today", The Minden Press-Herald, April 5, 1982, p. 1
  6. ^ "Herald voted best in Louisiana", Minden Herald, May 8, 1936, p. 1
  7. ^ "Minden Publisher Attends National Press Convention," The Minden Herald and Webster News, November 11, 1949, p. 1
  8. ^ "Press-Herald Goes Offset on Monday", Minden Press-Herald, January 17, 1969, p. 1
  9. ^ Minden Press-Herald, January 20, 1969, p. 1
  10. ^ "Tom Kelly Named Publisher", Minden Press-Herald, March 6, 1969, p. 1
  11. ^ Minden Press-Herald, April 16, 1989, p. 1
  12. ^ Sonny Jeane, "Mayor orders city employees not to meet with news media", The Minden Press-Herald, July 24, 1988, p. 1
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ a b "Specht Assumes Management of 'Press-Herald'", Minden Press-Herald, August 28, 1969, p. 1
  15. ^ a b "David A. Specht, Sr.". Shreveport Times. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  16. ^ "My Time Here Has Ended", Minden Press-Herald, July 18, 2014
  17. ^ Minden Press-Herald, April 9, 2013
  18. ^ "Brett new Press-Herald publisher", Minden Press-Herald, September 19, 1990, p. 1
  19. ^ "Byrd named sports editor", Minden Press-Herald, June 30, 1991, p. 1
  20. ^ "Press-Herald" Appoints Clark Managing Editor", The Minden Press-Herald, February 5, 1974, p. 1
  21. ^ "Charles E. Maple of Claude, Texas, Named News Editor of Press-Herald", The Minden Press, November 14, 1960, p. 1
  22. ^ "Press-Herald Names Sports Editor", Minden Press-Herald, June 12, 1973, p. 1
  23. ^ "Charles E. Maple". The Shreveport Times and Amarillo Globe-News through November 26, 2006. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  24. ^ Marilyn Miller, Sons of Darkness, Sons of Light, a True Crime Story, (Many, Louisiana: Sweet Dreams Publishing Company, 2000) isbn=1-893693-09-0
  25. ^ "Narvel Eddy "Nody" Parker, Sr.". Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Press-Herald staffer takes AL post", Minden Press-Herald, January 15, 1988, p. 1