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20 and still going strong - History
farragutpress begins its third decade with this issue

The history of farragutpress started 20 years ago with an owner — a Farragut-area native and Farragut High School graduate — who was eager to fill a void in the community he loved and respected.

And prove skeptics wrong.

“I’m an old Farragut guy, I graduated Farragut High School in 1963,” said Doug Horne, prominent real estate developer, owner/founder of Republic Newspapers, Inc., of which farragutpress is the flagship, and Horne Radio (105.3 FM) based in Farragut.

“My mother [Grace] was a school teacher at Blue Grass Elementary. … I’ve been connected to Farragut since I was just a small child,” Horne added. “My father [Alvin] was a salesman. We’ve always been connected to the Farragut community.”

Nick Drewry, Republic president who got the newspaper off the ground in 1988 as publisher, said Horne believed other Knox media “didn’t key on Farragut enough, and he thought Farragut, being an incorporated town since 1980, he thought it ought to have its own newspaper.”

Having come from management at Roane County News, Drewry said, “I came over and talked to him and he hired me to start it.”

The newspaper started in Farragut Towne Square shopping center, 11805 Kingston Pike, in summer 1988 then moved east to the corner of Kingston Pike and S. Peters Road — now home to Walgreens — in September 1990.

Horne said when he started the paper, “Everyone told me there’s no way it would work, we could not survive. It took us at least 10 years to make a profit. Most people would have backed away, but we continued to fund it.

However, “We were discouraged,” Horne added.

Drewry said, “The biggest challenge the first year was getting acceptance in the community, both readers and advertisers. We had readers tell our ad reps and me, ‘No, I’m not interested in advertising with this paper because it probably won’t last. If you stay in business a year come back and see us.’”

Drewry said “time and consistency” eventually won over readers.

Jeff Gary, the paper’s original editor who worked alongside Drewry to hire staff and acquire equipment in summer 1988, said he remembers “some real dedicated folks and a lot of teamwork” that went into the very first issue, Sept. 13, 1988.

Also part of that original staff, Gary said, included Kim Turner, production; Donna Parang, reporter, and Danny Long, ad manager.

The former Farragut Press Enterprise bought West Side Story, the weekly paper serving Bearden/West Knoxville, April 1,1990. From that came separate weekly issues serving Farragut/West Knoxville (Farragut Press Enterprise) and serving Bearden/West Knoxville (Bearden Press Enterprise).

But by late 1993, Farragut/West Knox Press Enterprise was a single newspaper that had moved back to Farragut Towne Square — but for only a couple of months before finding a special home.

Drewry said another key turning point in the paper’s history came with the move to its current location at 11863 Kingston Pike in December 1993.

“Because the staff finally had a real home instead of a shopping center or a rented building,” he said. “The look of the home — it used to be a home — gave creditability to the newspaper, I think. We had literally hundreds of people come in that would do business with the newspaper that commented on ‘the wonderful old building.’”

Drewry labeled the paper’s April 2002 changes — much greater emphasis on covering Farragut under the new banner, “farragutpress,” and going from broadsheet to tabloid size — as a “very distinct breaking point.

“People were pleased to get a phone call from the farragutpress to talk about their child or their school,” Drewry added. “That was our emphasis from day one, but it became a real Farragut emphasis on schools, in and around the schools.

“Even today if you look at it, town government and schools is what we are.”

Tony Cox, Republic vice president, agreed. “I think we gave the paper direction instead of worrying what was happening downtown,” he said. “We really drew the focus in and said, ‘We’re buying into the fact that this is a vibrant community and it needs to be served.’

From coverage of Farragut town government to Farragut schools to youth athletics, Cox said readers “aren’t going to get that from other publications that are out here. They’re not getting that from the radio stations, they’re not getting that from the T-V stations, they’re getting it from the farragutpress.”

As for choosing tabloid size, “It differentiated us, it made us stand out,” Cox said.

Drewry added tabloid helped create “more solid readership” by having a “more pleasing look, easier to hold, easier to read.”

Dan Barile, farragutpress editor/publisher since 2006 and editor since 2003, previously served as a photographer/staff writer for five years (1995-2000).

“When Dan came on board as editor of the newspaper, we saw an overnight improvement in our content,” Cox said.

Drewry went even further. “By far, the best, consistent news product this newspaper has ever had is under the news leadership of Dan Barile,” he said. “He’s been very instrumental in the success of the news product.”

Barile said recent years growth and success of farragutpress “can be summed up in two words: our team. The key to the success of any business is its people.

“We at farragutpress have been fortunate to have assembled a team of hardworking, dedicated team members who are willing to work around the clock in order to service our advertisers and to ferret out feature and hard news stories,” Barile added. “Our account executives are some of the best in the industry and won’t settle for second-best on the quality of display advertising for our clients.

“The same can be said for our team in our production department. Their meticulous attention to detail makes them a tremendous asset for our clients and sales team.”

As for editorial, “Enough can’t be said for our news staff,” Barile said. “These folks are out on the street finding interesting stories about local folks, covering the locals sports teams and letting the community know about what’s new in the area and what’s happening at our local churches.”

Among unique farragutpress weekly features is presstalk, a regular part of the paper for more than 10 years, where readers can anonymously call and express opinions on just about any topic.

Drewry said the goal was to create “interaction between us and the readers. It took the formality and the effort out of writing Letters to the Editor, although there was still some editing to it to make sure it was neither profane nor just outright nasty or out-of-line.”

Looking to the future, specifically the Internet, Cox pointed to farragutpress’ daily breaking news updates at its Web site:

That also includes for-purchase pictures from within farragutpress photo galleries, news, sports, school, community and worship events photographed primarily by editorial staff.

Drewry pointed out Internet news coverage allows more editorial expansion of a given story. “We’re adding all of that excess information that we think people want online even though we can’t print it in the paper for lack of space,” he said.

The owners’ future vision? “We have to provide the information through the Internet, we have to be electronically savvy,” Horne said.

Circulation within the first year of existence in the late 1980s, according to Drewry, was roughly 7,250 “distributed in, and just barely out of, Farragut.”

By comparison, Cox said current Farragut-area circulation is 15,665 “and growing.

“And I could see, over the next five years, having to grow another four[thousand] or five thousand copies to serve the community,” Cox added.

Doug Horne, 20 years later, has silenced the skeptics.


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