Past & Present: Local Newspapers
When studying issues in the press of a given time, it is essential to compare as many different publications as possible. The Wichita Eagle and Wichita Beacon, founded as the city’s Republican and Democratic papers, respectively, often took remarkably different views of an issue.
These were not the only local sources of information. There were African American newspapers such as the Negro Star and, today, The Community Voice. There were national and issue-based papers such as Carry Nation’s Smasher’s Mail, the Freethought Vindicator from Ottawa, Kansas, and the Socialist Appeal to Reason out of Girard. Other groups had regional publications such as the Southwest Jewish Chronicle for the Jewish community, while the Catholic Advance documents the activities and views of the diocese. The Liberty Press has been a highly regarded regional publication for the LBGTQ community and is still reeling from the tragic death of editor Kristi Parker. Then there are institutional publications such as the newsletters from the different aviation companies and the Sunflower, which began in 1896 as the student-run newspaper for what was then Fairmount College and has remained a key resource to understand the news, issues, and changes for the University of Wichita and now Wichita State University. Without it, we would lack a key understanding of how the institution has unfolded.
Therefore, when studying local history, looking to the prominent newspaper is essential, but just a start of the process. Keeping diverse perspectives in mind helps us appreciate the depth of our local story.