When "ThisWeek Worthington News" ceased publication after its January 26, 2023 issue, 98 years of local, weekly newspapers in Worthington ended. Our March exhibit looks back on decades of Worthington's newspapers.
Nineteenth-century Worthington featured a variety of sporadic local newspapers. "The Western Intelligencer," which was not only Worthington's first newspaper but also the first newspaper in central Ohio, was published in Worthington from 1811 until it moved to Columbus in 1814. Other local papers included "The Gleaner," "The Gladiator" and "The Franklin Chronicle."
The year 1925, however, saw the launch of a weekly tradition that was to last nearly 100 years. That year, Leonard Insley published the first "Worthington News" on March 12. The inaugural edition was four pages long, and featured a headline referencing a special city council meeting on gas prices; notes from the schools, churches and Chamber of Commerce; and an editorial from Insley regarding the "News":
"To the people of Worthington, and vicinity: We are presenting you a sample copy of 'The Worthington News,' a rather small newspaper, but it is at least a beginning, and we hope to be able to make it grow to a larger sheet, in the near future.
"500 copies of this issue have been printed, and distributed in Worthington and surrounding territory, and a like number will appear again next week. Worthington, thus far has been unfortunate in not having a local newspaper. We believe there is a real need for one here, as a medium of advertising for our local merchants, also to report the news and progress of our public schools, the churches, our Chamber of Commerce, the lodges, council meetings, and all other civic affairs, besides the local news happenings which are of interest to all.
"If this little paper shall succeed it will be its aim, to make it a real service to the community.
"After the second issue has been distributed, if enough subscribers can be obtained at $1.00 per year so that it can be sent through the U.S. mails as second class mail matter— we will be very glad to continue it, improving it from time to time as conditions will warrant. LEONARD INSLEY, Hartford St."
Insley was to oversee the development of the paper from these modest beginnings to a community institution, due in no small part to his dedication as editor. As described in a tribute to Insley in an article following his death in April 1952, "Men who lack confidence to strike out on their own in a strange field should have known Leonard Insley, the editor-publisher of 'The Worthington News,' who died Sunday with the assurance that he had created something that would last— a weekly newspaper dedicated to serve the Worthington community." It goes on to describe how Insley, over 40 years old and having lost his career as a draftsman due to failing eyesight, gave the field of newspaper publishing a try despite having no experience and only a little money. He canvassed for subscribers in Worthington's village and farmlands on foot, gaining just over 1,000 subscribers.
Insley's paper weathered the Great Depression and went on to become a fixture of the community. For many years, its motto was The Newspaper that Puts Service Before Dollars, and it covered local government, school news and neighborhood updates on a weekly basis. The social activities of residents received attention in every issue, with reports on who visited their in-laws or spent the afternoon entertaining out-of-town guests.
"The Worthington News" was a family affair, with Insley's wife, Modesta, serving as bookkeeper and his children Paul, Warren and Betty working in the print shop. All three children studied journalism at The Ohio State University. "The Worthington News" missed publication only twice during Insley's tenure: the week that his eldest son, Paul, died in an automobile accident, and the week that Insley himself passed away.
The newspaper remained under the managerial and editorial control of the Insley family until 1989 when it was sold first to Hirt Publications, then, several months later, to Consumer News Services, Inc., a subsidiary of The Dispatch Printing Co.
The 1990s were to see the development of two weekly papers in Worthington. "The Worthington News" rebranded first as "Worthington News This Week" and then as "ThisWeek in Worthington," a name it held from 1993 to 2012. Meanwhile, "Worthington Suburbia News" appeared on the scene in 1993, rebranding as "Worthington News (SNP)" in 1998. "SNP" referred to Suburban News Publications, the paper's owner. The '90s through the early 2000s were perhaps the height of the local, weekly paper in Worthington, with the competing papers featuring dozens of pages per issue, in-depth articles on local people, schools, businesses and other topics, editorial articles and cartoons, extensive high school sports coverage and pages of classified ads and personals.
In September 2011, The Dispatch purchased Suburban News Publications, and in April 2012 merged "This Week in Worthington" and "Worthington News (SNP)" into one publication— "This Week Worthington News." The April 26, 2012 issue featured the article "Welcome to your new community newspaper," with the promise to "cover the news and issues that hit residents at the curb and in the pocketbook."
For nearly 11 years, "This Week Worthington News" did exactly that— until the announcement in the January 5, 2023 "Columbus Dispatch" that "This Week Community News" would cease publication on January 26, in order to "focus reporting resources on 'The Columbus Dispatch' and Dispatch.com." This announcement heralded the end of a 98-year-old tradition of weekly news in Worthington, as well as other communities such as Westerville, where "ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion" had been in publication under various names since 1885.
For those interested in delving deeper into Worthington's history via its newspapers, Old Worthington Library offers a selection of microfilmed newspapers in the Worthington Room. Many of the papers have been partially or completely indexed in the news index on Worthington Memory. And the "Worthington News" from 1925 through 1963 is fully digitized on Ohio Memory, where it's readable and searchable in its entirety.
Fortunately, not all local news is history in Worthington, thanks to "Worthington Spotlight," a monthly newspaper that launched in June 2020. The editor and publisher is Cliff Wiltshire, a longtime community journalist and former "Worthington Suburbia News" editor, who launched the "Clintonville Spotlight" in 2017. With its focus on uplifting stories about people, places and events in Worthington's neighborhoods, the "Spotlight" is keeping local news alive in the community.