A local newspaper celebrates 150 years staying in business

The Okolona Messenger has been delivering the news for 15 decades

OKOLONA, Miss. (WCBI)- Local newspapers are the lifeblood of their communities; the editors, reporters and printers are often one and the same.

Many community papers have fallen victim to the times. Social media and a 24 hour news cycle have made it challenging to report the local news, but, one family has found a way to keep their business afloat, carrying on a 150 year tradition.

The Okolona Messenger has been delivering the news for 15 decades. In 1872 Frank Burkitt became the editor and soon after the owner of the Chickasaw Messenger. 22 years later, he changed the name of the newspaper to the People’s Messenger; then in 1900 Burkitt sold the paper to Steinberger and Sons who changed the name to the Okolona Messenger.

The newspaper changed hands three more times over the years before landing in the lap of Sue Blankenship and her late husband Murry.

“New things come and I am older and it helps to have younger people that can help out and have better and more current ideas,” said Okolona Messenger editor Sue Blankenship.

Blankenship and her grandson Russ is the 4th generation of Blankenship to work at the paper, and he is learning the family business.

“Just trying to learn really all that I can from it so if say she’s sick or something then I’ll have the know how on how to run it or to know it for future jobs or if I plan to do this,” said Blankenship.

Since taking over in 1983 Sue Blankenship said there’s been a lot of changes.

“We have had to fight coming from a manual typewriter to an electric typewriter, to a computer. We have a new system to mail out the paper, the labels; there’s a lot more involved than you think for getting and add,” said Blankenship.

Through all the challenges, Blankenship said it’s been worth it. The news paper is delivered weekly in Okolona, but that won’t be it’s only stop anymore.

“We are expanding into all of Chickasaw County because we are the only newspaper in Chickasaw County now,” said Blankenship.

Russ Blankenship is only 16, but said he would love to keep his family’s tradition going in the future.


Categories: Local News