The Examiner has a new home but the same mission

The Examiner

The Examiner has a new home at 300 N. Osage on the edge of the Independence Square.

After 41 years at 410 S. Liberty St., it was time for a change. The newspaper industry continues to see massive changes, and The Examiner is making the same kind of move many papers have made. We don’t need the space we once did, and we haven’t printed papers in Independence for more than a year.

Jeff Fox

A smaller, more visible space makes sense. You might know our new place as the old Commerce Bank building at Truman and Osage. It feels good to repurpose old space and put our employees within a short walk of a cup of coffee or lunch – not to mention history. You can stand outside the front door and see the 1859 Jail, the top of the Truman Courthouse and the tower of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, one of the oldest churches in the community.

I wish I could invite everyone to a grand opening, but for the moment the pandemic stands in the way. Most Gannett employees around the country continue to work remotely and will for some time to come. But soon enough – somewhere on the other side of this tiresome mess – there will be a day to celebrate.

The Examiner turned 123 years old last month. The Jackson Examiner, a weekly, was founded in 1898 by “Colonel” William Southern. The daily Independence Examiner came seven years later. That first issue in 1898 – “Fifty Cents a Year to Any Address” – put the paper’s location as “the Office in Music Hall Block, Independence, Mo.” The phone number was 6. Yes, just 6.

It’s a little unclear – and I’ve looked at quite a bit of microfilm and old papers – but it appears that The Examiner’s building at 321 W. Lexington Ave., just west of today’s post office, went up around 1910, with later additions and improvements. 

We were there for about 70 years – all of Truman’s years in local and national office, the years of fastest growth for Independence, the four-plus decades that Sue Gentry worked in the newsroom (her association with the paper ran more than 75 years overall), and the passing of the paper from Colonel Southern to the Stauffer company in 1951. A 50th anniversary and a 75th. Even the dropping of “Independence” from the paper’s name in 1963.

The building at 410 S. Liberty St. came in 1980 and has been the work home for a lot of press operators, sales people, journalists and others. We celebrated our first century in business there. Our four decades in that space saw the paper pass into the hands of Morris Communications, and then GateHouse, and now Gannett.

It’s tempting to talk about new chapters, but the fact is businesses are constantly reinventing themselves. The trick is to adapt while remembering what we’re about – using digital and print formats to do the work of journalism, telling people what’s going on around town – the good, the bad, the exasperating, the occasionally entertaining – and adding our thoughts to the ongoing community conservation. 

We’ve been busy packing boxes, and no one’s gotten around to buying a long piece of ribbon or a pair of those funny scissors. No worries. We’ll get to that celebration soon.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or on Twitter at @FoxEJC.