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The Times and Democrat


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About The Times and Democrat

The Times and Democrat is a daily newspaper in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The Times and Democrat is owned by Lee Enterprises, a company based in Davenport, Iowa. It has a circulation of 12,500.

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The Times and Democrat traces its history to the October 1881 merger of The Orangeburg Democrat and The Orangeburg Times. It also has ties to four other newspapers born in the aftermath of the American Civil War: The Southron, The Tax-Payer, The Edisto Clarion and The Orangeburg News and Times. Like most newspapers of the South during Reconstruction, the Orangeburg publications were embroiled in political doctrines.

Into this setting came James L. Sims. The Charleston, SC native learned the printing trade at The Charleston Courier and subsequently purchased an interest in The Spartanburg Herald. When his wife died, Sims sold his interest and moved to Orangeburg. In 1878 he purchased The Edisto Clarion, successor to The Tax-Payer, and changed its name again, to The Orangeburg Democrat. Sims' editor at the Democrat was Stiles R. Mellichamp, who after a short period left to start his own newspaper, The Orangeburg Times. In 1881 Sims and Mellichamp came together again to merge their newspapers into The Times and Democrat.

A close Orangeburg newspaper colleague of Sims in those early days was Hugo S. Sheridan. Some years later, Sims married Sheridan's daughter. From this marriage came four sons, three of whom were involved in the paper. James Izlar Sims, the oldest, dropped out of school at age 14 to work at The Times and Democrat.

The news content was a little different back then. One of the biggest events of the year was the ginning of the first bale of cotton. Automobiles running into mules and cows usually got big play. Sports received little attention. Typesetting was done by hand, one letter at a time, until 1906, when The Times and Democrat purchased a new Ottmar Mergenthaler Linotype machine at a cost of $3,600. J. Izlar Sims, then 16 years old, was sent to New York to learn how to operate the new machine that was destined to revolutionize the newspaper industry. Five years later, at the age of 21, he succeeded his father as publisher. J. Izlar Sims also founded a radio station and brought the first talking picture (movie theater) to Orangeburg in the late 1920s. He died in 1957.

J.L. Sims succeeded his father as publisher in 1943. After J.L Sims died in 1962 at age 47, surviving family members named Dean Livingston, 29, as publisher, a position he held until his retirement in 1999. Cathy Hughes became The Times and Democrat's fifth publisher in 1999 after having worked 27 years in a variety of positions at the newspaper since graduating with a journalism degree from the University of South Carolina in 1972.

A weekly publication since its founding, The Times and Democrat began publishing twice a week in 1908, three times a week in 1909 and five times a week in 1919. It returned to tri weekly publication in 1921 but later resumed daily publication. A Monday edition was added in the 1940s and the Sunday edition in 1953. A century ago, The Times and Democrat was the first newspaper in town to buy a cylinder press. In 1965 The Times and Democrat became South Carolina's first daily newspaper to convert to offset printing. In 1989 The Times and Democrat became South Carolina's first daily newspaper to design its pages entirely with computers.

The Times and Democrat has continued to publish daily despite hurricanes, snowstorms and a 1972 fire that destroyed The Times and Democrat's entire physical plant. Within five days of that fire, new typesetting machines and other production equipment were flown in. Within 10 days, a new press had arrived, and within 30 days, the pressroom building had been rebuilt around it.

Howard Publications acquired total ownership of The Times and Democrat in 1981. Lee Enterprises acquired Howard Publications and subsequently The Times and Democrat in 2002. The Times and Democrat is now distributed in five counties in lower central South Carolina: Orangeburg, Calhoun, Bamberg, Dorchester and Lexington.

Approximately 70 employees, 25 independent freelance correspondents, and 95 independent carriers coordinate efforts to publish the newspaper 364 days a year (every day except Dec. 26) and the website around the clock.

Readers throughout The T&D Region rely on The Times and Democrat in print and online for local news and sports, features, obituaries, weddings, community news, display and classified advertising, comics, special sections and more. In short, The T&D is the local information source for thousands and through its combination of distribution on avenues - print, website, mobile, apps, shopper and email marketing - reaches a bigger audience than ever in its 130 year history. It is the information leader.


Pamela Teasley

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