The first edition of Green Bay’s second voice
50 years later — how, when and where the Daily News began
By Christopher Wood
Special to the Press Times
GREEN BAY – It was 50 years ago Sunday, Nov. 13, that Green Bay’s new daily newspaper published its first edition.
The paper was a newly printed product called The Daily News that had been started by a group of 52 pressmen, compositors, reporters and other workers from the Green Bay Press–Gazette who had walked off the job several months earlier.
They were protesting the company’s decision to install computerized photo-typesetting equipment to replace the hot metal type that had been part of the newspaper printing business for eons.
They had become aware, like many other workers all over the country, that adopting this new technology would threaten their livelihoods.
The local chapter of The International Typographers Union (ITU) had supported the walkout by agreeing to pay the strikers $144 a week to replace their paychecks for an unspecified period.
Most figured it would only last a month or two — three at the very most.
Many had seen these “strike papers” come and go before, and most were short lived.
However, as it turned out, this strike lasted four years until The Daily News was merged with the Brown County Chronicle to become the News–Chronicle on April 12, 1976.
In the beginning, The Daily News was a “me-too” product competing against a much larger, well-heeled and well established competitor.
Like the Press–Gazette, it was a broadsheet paper delivered in the afternoon; unlike the Press-Gazette, it had far less news product and very little advertising revenue to help pay the bills.
Switch to morning delivery
By October 1973, the Daily News started appearing on people’s doorsteps early in the morning.
Many thought this was a competitive move to enable them to get the news a half day earlier, since some larger cities in the state like Milwaukee and Madison had morning newspapers.
Unbeknownst to readers, however, the reason for the change was much more mundane.
The strikers had decided to move the printing from Shawano to a plant located much closer to Green Bay, which would save them a lot of money — not to mention the substantial time savings, which is an important factor in the daily newspaper business.
The new printer was Brown County Publishing Company (BCP), located just 17 miles south in Denmark instead of the 40-mile trip to Shawano.
Keep in mind, too, that there were no computers for instantaneously sending proofs, negatives or files back and forth in those days, either.
Much as they wanted to print with BCP for all of those economic reasons, however, there was a problem: The only way it could work schedule-wise for their six-day-a-week publication schedule was for BCP to bring back a crew to work from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
That meant they would get the papers printed and delivered early in the morning, but they would also have to change from an afternoon paper to a morning edition, which is what they did.
Things really changed in the newspaper business in the state after Gannett bought the Green Bay Press–Gazette and the Wausau Daily Herald in late 1979.
Back then, business was conducted very differently at the upper echelons of Wisconsin newspaper management.
While there wasn’t a formal “non-aggression” pact between newspapers in the Green Bay market, there had been a history of mutual respect between both papers’ management teams.
When issues arose, they would discuss and resolve them.
Frank Wood was comfortable calling one of the Yuenger brothers (who ran the Press-Gazette) when something came up, and they were comfortable calling him when it was appropriate.
You might say it was an old-fashioned way of competing amicably — a more civil time than the “dog eat dog” approach some businesses have adopted after being acquired — or divested of — by larger corporations.
In addition to operating newspapers, Wood had a second profession as a college professor at St. Norbert College in De Pere.
When it came to the newspapers, he couldn’t help but let his professor side rub off on many of the people he worked with, trained and mentored.
While it’s been more than 11 years since he passed, Wood really thought there was a chance he’d be here to celebrate the occasion of the paper’s Silver Anniversary.
One day as he was enjoying the moment and ruminating about the occasion, he looked ahead to this day.
“This is just the beginning. Some things will not change,” he said. “I plan, God willing, to be here to help this paper celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022. I would be 94 but then, what the heck, my grandfather, Pat Gallagher, lived to be 96.”
And now a toast: Well, hear, hear, and here’s to you Dad — and three cheers to all.