Port Clinton, Ohio, was founded on the shores of Lake Erie in the 1820s, after the Battle of Lake Erie removed British naval forces from the area. In 1840, it was assigned as the seat of the newly established Ottawa County. The western half of the county reached inland and was primarily used for logging, hunting, and agriculture. Camp Perry, a National Guard training facility, was built in 1909 and has been an economic center ever since. The eastern half holds several townships on the peninsula and islands, which served as commercial stops between Toledo, Cleveland, and other industrial cities on the coasts of the Great Lakes. Eventually the coastal area became a popular tourist destination.
In 1931, Port Clinton gained a Friday weekly newspaper when the Ottawa County News Democrat and the Progressive Times merged to form the Ottawa County News. The paper styled itself as Democratic, but it was not the official organ of the party. It also described itself as progressive, which referred to post-Depression ideals rather than to the Progressive Era. The County News began under the editorial guidance of Ray Sperber and with the aid of publisher Ralph L. Snyder. In 1950 Robert W. “Bob” Reider acquired it and updated the format to include a greater variety of sections. Reider was a vocal and engaging political man who served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1948 to 1956, as well as on local committees. In 1956 he was nominated as a candidate for governor of Ohio. Although he lost to Republican C. William O’Neill, Reider’s campaign was covered thoroughly in many issues of the Ottawa County News.
In the paper’s final issue before converting to daily publication, Reider claimed to have the “sole aim to adequately cover local items of news value and to provide local merchants with a daily opportunity to reach an ever-expanding market.” His paper catered largely to the tourist economies of the coastal areas, noting who visited the resort area and how they spent their time. The editors also frequently reported on the tensions between island and mainland communities, amid medical news, charity news, sports features, courthouse updates, obituaries, and birth announcements, which were easily identified by a stork or cherub by each entry. The publication also had a strong editorial voice, with both a “Letters to the Editor” section toward the back and a regular “Publisher’s Corner” on page two.
The run of the Ottawa County News ended in 1956 when it became the county’s first, and the state’s hundredth, daily newspaper as the Daily News. In 1969, the Daily News merged with the Port Clinton Herald, a Republican paper, to form the News Herald, which still runs today.
Researched and written by Jen Cabiya