One of the oldest surviving papers in Marion County, the Marion Daily Mirror was founded as the Democratic Mirror on June 4, 1842 by John R. and Russell A. Knapp. The paper appeared weekly until 1890, when Editor R.R. Bartram began to publish issues every evening but Sunday. Throughout its history, the Mirror underwent many changes in editorship but, somewhat remarkably, maintained essentially the same name until 1912 when it became known as the Marion Ohio Tribune.
As its original name suggests, the Mirror was strongly Democratic, although historian John Wilbur Jacoby claimed in 1907 that by combining the viewpoints of several editors, reporters, and professional writers, the paper came to present a more balanced perspective. Despite the editorial changes, the Mirror remained important for the citizens of Marion as it reflected current events and local interests. Until it became the Marion Ohio Tribune, the Mirror underwent only one merger, when it purchased the smaller Dollar Democrat, a poor competitor in the news world, in 1896.
Starting in 1900, the Mirror was owned by J. Burgess and N.E. Arnold. By 1907, the corporation was worth $50,000. Burgess still owned the company, but the editors were Dr. Arlington Clare Holland and F.M. Armstrong. Sensational headlines invited subscribers to read international, national, and state news. Stories, some received from the Scripps McRae Telegraphic News Service and Market Reports, covered a variety of topics, from tragic accidents to crime and politics. The paper also reported on local weather, news, and gossip and often dedicated at least one page to sports. Expanded Saturday editions incorporated serialized fiction and sheet music. To drive its political viewpoint home, most issues of the Mirror also included a political cartoon on the front page.
The Daily Mirror’s great rival was a Republican paper, the Marion Daily Star. At one time, future President Warren G. Harding had been a reporter for the Mirror. It is said that he was fired after he openly began to support Republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine in 1884, but other sources simply say that Harding did not want to be just a reporter. Shortly after leaving the Mirror, Harding purchased the struggling Star, and under his leadership the paper flourished. The Daily Mirror eventually acquired the Marion Ohio Tribune, and the two rivals merged in 1926 to form the Marion Star, which is still published today.
Researched and written by Jenni Salamon