In what seems like another sign of our troubled political times, the Fauquier Times-Democrat is deleting “Democrat” from its name after 108 years. The Warrenton paper found that having the term in the title gave the wrong impression in deeply Republican Fauquier County — the paper is neither Democratic nor Republican — and there’s no need to offend anyone because of a meaningless name, particularly the way newspapers are faring these days. Offending people with reporting and editorializing, now that’s what we’re here for.
Executive Editor Bill Walsh wrote this in yesterday’s inaugural Fauquier Times: “But in an age which is, perhaps, more shaped and informed by political identity than any other in our history, having a word in our banner that is so associated with a political party is no longer a very astute business decision. The same could be said if, for the last 24-plus years, we had been the Fauquier Times-Republican.”
The now twice-weekly paper was started in 1817, was renamed the Fauquier Democrat in 1905, and then the Times-Democrat in 1989, when it adopted the branding of its owner, the Arundel family’s Times Community Newspapers. The Arundels also own the Loudoun Times-Mirror, the Culpeper Times and the Prince William Times.
The Associated Press wrote a detailed story which notes that Fauquier has averaged a 60 percent Republican vote in the last four presidential and gubernatorial elections. Post media writer Erik Wemple spoke to Walsh for further discussion of the move.
Though some might say it’s a sign of our increased partisanship, it’s worth noting that newspapers have often piled up three or four names as they merged into each other, and eventually they shortened the name. We had the Washington Star-News here for awhile after the Evening Star and the Washington Daily News merged in 1972, and this very paper was The Washington Post and Times-Herald until 1973.
Old-timers in Fauquier, which is just outside the State of NoVa, will still call it the Democrat, just like some of us other old-timers occasionally still call the Washington basketball team the Bullets. But it’s not the old-timers the Fauquier Times is interested in. It’s trying to attract young readers, and advertisers, and to some people the word “Democrat” is a big turnoff.