The Dawson news. (Dawson, Ga.) 1889-current
Place of Publication:
- Dawson, Terrell county
Dates of publication:
- Vol. 5, no. 43 (Mar. 13, 1889)-
- Dawson (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Georgia--Terrell County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01210901
- Terrell County (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Also on microfilm: Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Libraries.
The Dawson news. March 13, 1889
George M. Roberts and Irby Goodwin Marshall purchased the defunct Dawson Appeal in March 1886 and published it as the South Western News beginning in June 1886. The four-page weekly circulated every Wednesday and shared the Democratic politics of its local competitor, the Dawson Journal. By May 1887, the News held legal advertising rights for Terrell County, which garnered a larger subscription base than the long-standing Journal and sent that older publication into a gradual decline. As a relatively small agricultural community just west of the larger cities of Americus and Albany, Dawson could not reliably support two newspapers with virtually the same politics and audience.
Roberts served as editor in chief, and W. L. Pilsbury joined the editorial department in February 1888; although Pilsbury left to take an editor position in Eufaula, Alabama, he remained connected to the News until his death in 1898. A young Thomas W. Loyless, who later achieved prominence for his criticism of the Leo Frank case as owner and editor of the Augusta Chronicle, began his newspaper career with the News in November 1888.
On March 13, 1889, Eugene Leigh Rainey assumed ownership of the South Western News and renamed it the Dawson News, a title that continues to the present day. Managing the paper for nearly 50 years, Rainey stands as the News’ longest-serving editor and proprietor. He was a force in the local Democratic politics of Southwest Georgia, and his paper was as much a sounding board for Rainey as it was a source of news for Terrell County residents. In his time as editor, Rainey served as a Dawson City Council member and state representative (1902-1906), and as a member of the Democratic Executive Committee for Terrell County. In 1912, Rainey was elected to the Georgia State Prison Commission and eventually became chairman, a position he held until his death in 1936. Despite his penchant for politics, Rainey rarely endorsed Democratic candidates during primaries, instead choosing to support whomever the party coalesced around.
Rainey’s paper featured material common among Democratic sheets, including support for prohibition and reforms to Georgia’s convict labor system. As a conservative Democrat, Rainey opposed the rise of populism in the 1890s, and he editorialized against Georgia’s leading populist, Thomas Watson. Noting “Watson’s Evil Influence,” Rainey particularly highlighted Watson’s attempts to appeal to Black voters. Rainey tailored much of his editorials to the largely white and agrarian audience the News served, and he frequently pointed to instances of racial violence in the North as a means of downplaying the South’s own fraught race relations. Rainey reluctantly supported William Jennings Bryan for president in 1908, and he lamented Georgia’s apparent lack of influence at that year’s Democratic National Convention; Georgia initially cast its ballots for George Gray.
In the 1910s, Rainey invested in new engine-powered presses, and expanded the News staff, which included bringing his son, Clement E. Rainey, on as an assistant editor. The paper briefly circulated semi-weekly from 1912 to 1914, but permanently returned to its weekly publishing cycle by 1915. Despite the relatively small town it called home, the News proved to be a popular and widely quoted sheet, and Eugene Rainey successfully managed the publication until his death in June 1936. Clement Rainey then took over management of the paper until selling it to Carl Rountree in February 1946. During Rountree’s tenure, Terrell County’s notoriety for racial violence caused the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to select the area for its earliest integration efforts in the 1960s. Today, Dawson News Inc. publishes the Dawson News, which continues to serve as Terrell County’s paper of record.