Origins of our newspaper can be traced back to the Urbana Union, first published in 1852. Over the next 70 years, the paper went through several name changes and mergers.
The modern News-Gazette was established in 1919, when David W. Stevick, owner of the Champaign Daily News, purchased the Champaign Daily Gazette, merging the two papers.
Mr. Stevick was an active voice in the community. His frequent front-page editorials addressed a wide range of concerns. He enthusiastically promoted civic causes, and sharply criticized activities that he felt were not in the public interest. His goal was simple: Get things done.
"Be a Booster . . . And a Builder" was one of his editorial slogans.
Following Mr. Stevick's death in 1935, his widow, Helen M. Stevick, served as president and publisher for more than three decades. Under her guidance, The News-Gazette continued its internal growth and progress as well as expanding its community involvement.
In 1952, the paper celebrated its 100th year of service with a Centennial Progress Edition. In that issue, Mrs. Stevick said in a special message to readers: "A century of service does not offer a resting point. It challenges new achievement. It commands new and even greater toil and intelligence in leading Champaign-Urbana and East Central Illinois forward."
An expansion program in 1965 saw the construction of a new press building to house a high-speed rotary press, the broadening of news content to appeal to a wide variety of readers, and the introduction of a Saturday morning edition, making The News-Gazette a seven-day-a-week publication.
Our newspaper’s tradition of independent ownership and operation continued with the Stevicks’ daughter, Mrs. Marajen Stevick Chinigo. Mrs. Chinigo assumed the leadership of The News-Gazette after her mother’s death in 1967, until her own death in 2002 – the same year the paper celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Technology has shaped the progress of the paper. In July 1977, a new offset press made possible improved print and color reproduction. The Stevick building at 15 Main Street in Champaign was completed in late 1984 to provide more space for the increasing number of employees. The News-Gazette plunged into the computer age with state-of-the-art computer and communications systems for the business, editorial, advertising and circulation departments. We also took a step toward automation with a new inserting machine for the mailroom and imaging equipment for the composing room.
Since David Stevick’s death in 1935 Mrs. Stevick and Mrs. Chinigo carried out his wish for the newspaper to remain locally owned and locally operated. Through many challenges and lucrative offers the paper has remained independent – responsive and responsible to its community.
As an only child with no heirs, Mrs. Chinigo made elaborate plans to ensure that the newspaper would not be sold to a corporation. Stock of the company had been in a living trust with Mrs. Chinigo as primary trustee. Plans call for the trust to transfer ownership to a private foundation – the Marajen Stevick Foundation. That organization in turn will support a public foundation and will be structured and totally committed to preserving The News-Gazette as an independently owned community enterprise.
Today, as always, The News-Gazette strives for journalistic excellence, as well as active involvement in the community. The newspaper and its staff have been the recipients of numerous awards for outstanding reporting, feature writing, photography, commentary advertising and design.
While The News-Gazette editorial pages have traditionally reflected conservative viewpoints, we understand our responsibility as the area’s leading source of information and news analysis. Therefore, other voices and other views are constantly sought for our opinion pages, through columnists, guest commentaries and letters to the editor.