The Clarion-Ledger

The Clarion-Ledger is an American daily newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi. It is the second oldest company in the state of Mississippi and is one of only a few newspapers in the nation that continues to circulate statewide. It is an operating division of Gannett River States Publishing Corporation, owned by Gannett.

The Clarion-Ledger
TypeDaily newspaper
EditorSam R. Hall
LanguageEnglish (American dialect)
Headquarters201 South Congress Street
Jackson, MS 39201
Circulation134,152 Daily
106,422 Sunday[1]


The paper traces its roots to The Eastern Clarion, founded in Jasper County, Mississippi, in 1837. Later that year, it was sold and moved to Meridian, Mississippi.[2]

After the American Civil War, it was moved to Jackson and merged with The Standard. It soon became known as The Clarion.

Four employees who were displaced by the merger founded their own newspaper, The Jackson Evening Post, in 1882.

In 1888, The Clarion merged with the State Ledger and became known as the Daily Clarion-Ledger.

In 1907, Fred Sullens purchased an interest in the competing The Jackson Evening Post, and shortly after changed the name to the Jackson Daily News. It still remained an evening newspaper.

Thomas and Robert Hederman bought the Daily Clarion-Ledger in 1920 and dropped "Daily" from its masthead.

On August 24, 1937, The Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News incorporated under a charter issued to Mississippi Publishers Corporation for the purpose of selling joint advertising.

On August 7, 1954, the Jackson Daily News sold out to its rival, The Clarion-Ledger, for $2,250,000 despite a then recent court ruling that blocked The Clarion-Ledger owners from controlling both papers. The Hederman family now owned both papers and consolidated the two newspaper plants.[3]

In 1982, the Hedermans sold the Clarion-Ledger and Daily News to Gannett, ending 60 years of family ownership. Gannett merged the two papers into a single morning paper under the Clarion-Ledger masthead, with the Clarion-Ledger incorporating the best features of the Daily News. The purchase of both papers by Gannett essentially created a daily newspaper monopoly in Central Mississippi (Gannett also owns the Hattiesburg American in Hattiesburg, Mississippi), which still exists.

Civil rights

Historically, both newspapers—The Clarion-Ledger and the Jackson Daily News—were openly and unashamedly racist, even by Deep South standards.

In 1890, after Mississippi Democrats adopted a new state constitution to disenfranchise black voters, The Clarion-Ledger applauded the move, stating: "Do not object to negroes voting on account of ignorance, but on account of color. ... If every negro in Mississippi was a class graduate of Harvard, and had been elected class orator ... he would not be as well fitted to exercise the rights of suffrage as the Anglo-Saxon farm laborer."[4]

When 200,000 people marched on Washington in 1963 to urge "jobs and freedom" for black people and Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, The Clarion-Ledger made short note of the rally but reported the litter-clearance effort the next day under the headline, "Washington is Clean Again with Negro Trash Removed".[5]

Earlier that year, when the Mississippi State University basketball team was scheduled to play the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers, whose starting lineup featured four African-American players, in the NCAA tournament, the Jackson Daily News prominently featured pictures of the four black players in an effort to scare the Bulldogs from playing the Ramblers. At the time, longstanding state policy forbade state collegiate athletic teams from playing in integrated events. The ploy backfired, as the Bulldogs ignored the threat and defied an order from Governor Ross Barnett to face the eventual national champion Ramblers in an important, but often overlooked, milestone of progress in race relations in sports.

The paper often referred to civil rights activists as "communists" and "chimpanzees." The paper's racism was so virulent that it prompted some in the African-American community to call it "The Klan-Ledger".[6]

When violence, aided by such rabble rousing, took place in Mississippi, the paper sought to put the blame somewhere else. When Byron De La Beckwith was arrested for killing NAACP leader Medgar Evers, the headline read, "Californian Is Charged With Murder Of Evers", overlooking the fact that Beckwith had lived in Mississippi almost his whole life.[6]

In the mid-1970s, Rea S. Hederman, the third generation of his family to run the paper, made a concerted effort to atone for its terrible civil rights record. Hederman expanded the staff and news budget. Editors began to pursue promising young reporters, even from other states. To help rehabilitate the paper's image among blacks, who gradually became a majority of Jackson's population, the paper increased coverage of blacks and increased its black staff.

When Gannett bought the newspaper, the new leadership ramped up efforts to purge the paper's segregationist legacy. Gannett has long been well known for promoting diversity in the newsroom and covering events in communities of racial and ethnic minorities. By 1991, the Clarion-Ledger's number of newsroom black professionals was three times the national average and the paper had one of the few black managing editors in the U.S.[7]

Ronnie Agnew became the Managing Editor in February 2001. In October 2002, he became the paper's first black Executive Editor.

Awards and recognition

In 1983, The Clarion-Ledger won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for a package of stories on Mississippi's education system.[5]

See also

  • Erle Johnston


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-06. Retrieved 2013-06-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "History". The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS). Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  3. "Jackson News is Sold; Passes to Clarion-Ledger After Long Control Battle". The New York Times. August 7, 1954.
  4. McMillen, Neil R. "The Politics of the Disfranchised". Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow. pp. 43–44. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  5. "New South at the Clarion-Ledger". Time (New York). May 2, 1983.
  6. From The Clarion-Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell's Zenger Award Acceptance Speech
  7. Dufresne, Marcel (October 1991). "Exposing the Secrets of Mississippi Racism". American Journalism Review. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
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