Richmonders recognize the name Lewis Ginter whether it is from the Botanical Gardens or the Ginter Park neighborhood. But only a few realize that Lewis Ginter also was the founder of one of the prime news sources in the City and one that has become a major media empire throughout the Southeastern United States.
In 1886, Major Lewis Ginter became the founder and publisher of The Daily Times. Captain Page McCarty became the first editor. A year later, in 1887, Ginter gave the newspaper to another famous Richmond resident by the name of Joseph Bryan. In 1890 the name was changed to The Times.
Just across the James River in the Town of Manchester, J.F. Bradley and Ben P. Owen Jr. began The Leader. Manchester would later become a part of the City of Richmond.
During the Civil War recovery and reconstruction in Richmond, Monument Avenue was laid out in 1887, with a series of monuments at various intersections honoring the city’s Confederate heroes (east to west) J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson and oceanographer Matthew F. Maury. Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery became the final resting place of both Stuart and Davis. Contributing to Richmond’s industrial reconstruction was the first successful electrically-powered trolley system in the United States, the Richmond Union Passenger Railway.
All of this contributed to the growth of the Richmond Newspaper industry and to the growth of the company that would eventually be known as Media General.
A series of other events, and publications arose and in 1903 Joseph Bryan’s Times and John L. Williams’ Dispatch consolidated into the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which became Richmond’s morning newspaper. The same day, Williams’ News and Bryan’s Evening Leader were consolidated into The News Leader, becoming Richmond’s evening newspaper. Bryan owned the Times-Dispatch and Williams owned The News Leader. In 1940, the newspapers combined to form Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
Twenty years later Media General was formed and Richmond Newspapers, Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of the media conglomerate.
Today Media General is an independent, publicly owned communications company situated all across the Southeastern part of the United States. Media General has interests in newspapers, television stations and interactive media. In addition to now owning 21 daily newspapers, also among the company holdings are 18 network-affiliated television stations and their accompanying websites. Media General also has 200 specialty publications including weekly newspapers and publications targeted by demographics to reach particular communities.
In June of this year Media General announced that it plans to extend part of its Yahoo advertising sales partnership to all of its network-affiliated television stations by the end of 2010. It was reported that this made Media General the first member of the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium to take this step. The announcement came with Media General saying it would extend the partnership to television stations in the following locations: Birmingham, Ala., Columbus, Ohio, Mobile, Ala. and Greenville/Spartanburg and S.C./Ashville, N.C.
From the very simple beginnings of a daily newspaper in a Reconstruction era town, Media General has grown to be a major information source for the Southeast. And if their history is any indication, that influence will continue to spread.