The Franklin Press is Macon County's oldest business, which was established as a weekly in 1886 by T.J. Christy of Athens, Ga. Christy stayed for a short time, then sold out to W.A. Curtis.
The fifth newspaper to publish in Franklin, The Press was preceded by The Franklin Observer, The Western Carolinian, the Macon Advance and The Western Reporter. None of those lasted more than a few years.
Obviously, it was difficult to run a newspaper in those years. Curtis frequently appealed to readers to pay for their subscriptions in firewood or produce. He went through some lean times, but he prevailed and created an enduring institution.
The paper flourished under a series of independent owners. The last of these, Bob Sloan, sold the business to Jerue Babb, who built Community Newspapers Inc., in the late 1960s. Babb made significant needed improvements to the physical plant and helped The Press stay afloat in a difficult time for small-town papers.
In 1989, Dink NeSmith and Tom Wood bought the CNI chain from the Babb estate. They have continued Babb's tradition of allowing the newspapers in the chain full editorial independence.
Today, The Franklin Press publishes two editions weekly, with a circulation of 7,300. Its excellence has been recognized by numerous awards from the N.C. Press Association and CNI. It takes to heart the CNI mission statement, which states in part: "To take a bias in support of the communities we serve, providing aggressive, visionary leadership."
The Franklin Press facility, on the corner of Depot and Wayah streets in Franklin, was modernized in 2003, with a striking new exterior and an open-plan interior.
The Press operates as part of a region that includes newspapers in Cashiers, Highlands, Bryson City and Spruce Pine. The papers are printed in the Mountain Press facility, which adjoins The Franklin Press offices.
In addition to the two weekly editions, The Press publishes Information Please, Medical Directory and special sections throughout the year.