Dermott (Chicot County) did not have its own newspaper until decades after the community was founded in the 1840s. In 1910, J. A. Watkins established the most prominent local newspaper, the Dermott News. The Dermott News had many publishers during its almost seven-decade run. In 1911 alone, the paper changed hands several times. The next year, Gilbert Earle Kinney purchased it, bringing stability to the paper. He remained editor and publisher until his death in 1938. The paper merged with another in 1977.
In 1939, Joe W. Sitlington purchased the paper, and he worked as the publisher until 1946. The paper changed hands rapidly again, from the Dermott News Publishing Company to W. W. Mundy in 1947. Mundy stayed with the paper until 1958, when he sold it to F. N. Carnahan. In 1961, LeRoy Tyson and his wife purchased the paper, and Tyson worked as the editor.
Another local Dermott paper began in 1909, the Dermott Industrial Chronicle (1909–1921). This was an African American paper started by A. R. Raiford and later published by I. J. Bailey. In 1914, the Dermott News office was destroyed in a fire, but the paper remained in publication thanks to the Chronicle. The Chronicle allowed the Dermott News to use its offices for publishing until it assembled a new office. Fires were common at the time, and the Chronicle’s offices burned in 1921. Unlike the Dermott News, the Chronicle ceased to exist after its disastrous fire.
The Dermott News published every Thursday about local and state news, as well as national and international events. Local news included updates about people traveling, moving to the area, and attending activities like the theatre. One page of the paper had a new chapter of a novel for readers to follow every week. The Dermott News supported its local community by hosting contests and offering prizes, such as a Meyer & Sons piano. It had advertisements for wider events, such as the Chicot County Fair and Arkansas State Fair. Editors were vocal about supporting the temperance movement and keeping alcohol out of Arkansas. The paper supported the Democratic Party and even helped collect money for the Woodrow Wilson presidential campaign. The Dermott News also kept its readers informed about important national and international events, including World War I.
In 1977, the Dermott News merged with the McGehee Times to form the McGehee Dermott Times News. The weekly newspaper continues providing news for its readers in the twenty-first century.
Beginning in 2017, the Arkansas Digital Newspaper Project (ADNP) team at the Arkansas State Archives partnered with the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), to digitize historic Arkansas newspapers, including the Dermott News.
For additional information:
Allsopp, Frederick W. History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More. Little Rock: Parke-Harper Publishing Co., 1922.
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890.
Dermott News. Chronicling America, Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90050260/ (accessed December 21, 2022).
Dougan, Michael B. Community Diaries: Arkansas Newspapering: 1819–2002: Little Rock: August House Publishing Inc., 2003.
Staff of the Arkansas Digital Newspaper Project
Arkansas State Archives
A version of this entry was initially published on the Chronicling America website and is used here with permission.
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