West Side Leader marks 30 years
Thirty years ago yesterday — July 10, 1984 — the first issue of the West Side Leader was mailed to 20,500 addresses in West Akron, Bath, Copley and Fairlawn.
The debut of that 16-page paper led to the trusted source of quality local news for residents of Summit County as well as eastern Medina County that readers know today.
“We remain one of the few locally owned and operated news sources in the area,” said West Side Leader and South Side News Leader Publisher Clark Burns, who is marking his 25th year at the company this year. “Our goal is to remain dedicated to the things that made us a success in the past — being the source for local news and offering effective, affordable advertising products for local businesses.”
The paper was started by six local residents — Garey Samuelson, Ann Hess, Mary Maxson, Jane Ann Turzillo, Ed Powles and Paula Powles — who felt the area was in need of a quality local news source.
“There is a real need and desire for good, concise and timely LOCAL news coverage,” wrote Maxson, who served as the first editor, in her editorial in the first edition. She added local business people desired to have “an economical way to advertise their wares and services to everyone in this locale.”
By the time the first anniversary of the paper rolled around, the six owners had been reduced to three, with Samuelson serving as publisher, Maxson as editor and Turzillo as managing editor. In 1988, Samuelson became the sole owner and head of the paper until he retired. He died in 2003.
Today, with Burns at the helm, the paper’s founders’ emphasis on staying local remains.
“The paper provides local residents with coverage of school and charity events, as well as in-depth coverage of local sports, theater, art and music events,” said Burns. “The paper’s editorial content is produced and edited by a staff of professional journalists, writers and photographers. Our editorial department is focused on covering school boards and local governments, as well as county government. Our reporters cover community meetings, and often they’re the only ones there. In many cases, there’s no other way for the reader to find out what their local governments are doing. That effort has been very important to our success.”
The West Side Leader has grown to a circulation of 42,317 and over the years has expanded into the communities of Boston, Cuyahoga Falls (the former Northampton Township area), Norton, Peninsula and Richfield in Summit County, as well as Granger and Sharon in Medina County.
In 1996, the publishing company expanded with the creation of the Green Leader, spreading its high-quality product to that growing community. The weekly, published on Fridays, was renamed the South Side News Leader in 2005, and its circulation doubled as the communities of Coventry, Lakemore, New Franklin and Springfield were added to the coverage area.
The West Side Leader and South Side News Leader also have maintained an online presence with the newspaper’s website, www.akron.com, which debuted in 1998. Late-breaking news also can be found on Facebook and Twitter (search “akrondotcom”).
“After 30 years of business, we continue to stay true to our goal of providing excellent news to our local readers,” said Burns. “I’d like to thank our readers and advertisers who have supported us over the years, and we look forward to expanding our advertising products and coverage areas to neighboring communities that frequently request our newspapers.”
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