Over 150 close friends and well-wishers of the Falls Church News-Press and its founder-owner Nicholas F. Benton crowded into the News-Press‘ office last Thursday to celebrate the weekly newspaper’s 1,000th consecutive edition. Since its first edition in March 1991 the newspaper has not missed a single weekly edition.
Among those present at that Thursday’s celebration were Virginia State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple and State Del. Kaye Kory, former Falls Church Mayors Brian O’Connor, David Snyder, Daniel Gardner and Robin Gardner, Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields and former City Manager David Lasso, leaders of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce ranging from Cdr. (Ret.) Robert S. “Hap” Day to its current executive director Sally Cole, numerous present and former members of the Falls Church City Council and School Board and abundant other friends of the paper.
Putting their names to a lengthy list of dignitaries and friends congratulating the News-Press, most published in this week’s edition of the paper, included U.S. Senators Mark Warner and James Webb, U.S. Congressmen James Moran and Gerald Connolly, Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Virginia State Legislators James Scott, Adam Ebbin, Whipple and Kory, Fairfax County Supervisor Penelope Gross and a total of six former Falls Church mayors, along with other prominent names such as former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe, legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir.
Former Falls Church Mayor and current Vice Mayor Snyder spoke, hailing the role of the News-Press as the institutional memory of Falls Church that researchers far into the future will refer back to for their information about the area.
Benton said that the paper’s “best story” was its successful effort in the mid-1990s working with the Chamber of Commerce (when Benton was its president) to end years of acrimony between Falls Church’s business and residential communities. “Through our editorial and other efforts, we caused a paradigm shift in Falls Church where each of these two components suddenly realized the value of each to the other,” he said. It introduced an era that led to the most aggressive new development in the City’s history, which has helped to buoy the City’s ability to maintain its excellent schools and services in tough economic times.
Benton also said that it has been the paper’s weekly publication of community and school items of interest, citing the achievements of countless citizens and young people in the area, which has been at the core of the paper’s mission and its success. “It is also the newspaper’s role to particularly stand up on behalf of the underrepresented in society,” he added.
Al Eisele, long-time Falls Church resident and editor-at-large for The Hill newspaper was present at the event, and posted a lengthy profile article about the News–Press‘ 1,000 milestone on the Huffington Post website Monday entitled, “A Very Good Week for a Small Town Newspaper Publisher.”
Eisele concluded it by saying, “As a journalist myself and long-time resident of Falls Church, it’s nice to know that my hometown newspaper is thriving at a time when almost every other newspaper is struggling to survive. And better yet to know that the newspaper’s owner believes, as H.L. Mencken put it, that a newspaper’s role in society is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”