Twitter Facebook Google Plus Pinterest Storify
Society of Professional Journalists
Improving and protecting journalism since 1909

Advertise with SPJ

News and More
Click to Expand Instantly

SPJ News
Events and Deadlines
SPJ Blogs
Quill Online
Journalist's Toolbox

Stay in Touch
Twitter Storify Facebook Google Plus
RSS Pinterest Pinterest Flickr

More SPJ News
Press Notes
SPJ Blogs
SPJ Leads
The EIJ News
Press Notes
SPJ News
Open Doors
Geneva Conventions
Annual FOI Reports

Home > SPJ News > Home of newspaper during Revolutionary War named Historic Site in Journalism

SPJ News
Latest SPJ News | RSS

Home of newspaper during Revolutionary War named Historic Site in Journalism




Chad Hosier, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 920-4791,
Ellen Kobe, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785,

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has named Washington Square in Newport, R.I., a National Historic Site in Journalism.

Since 1942, the Society has honored the people and places that have played important roles in the history of journalism through the Historic Sites program. Some honorees include: The Associated Press offices in Washington and New York City; Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper published in the United States; and, most recently, the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.

Janine Weisman, editor of the Newport Mercury, nominated the historical section of Newport, which housed the town’s only printing press during the Revolutionary War. When the British arrived in 1776, they seized the printing press in order to print official military documents and a newspaper for British soldiers. Its owner Solomon Southwick had allegedly tried to bury it, but couldn’t hide it before it was discovered by troops.

The press is usually referred to as the “Franklin Press” for the family that owned and operated it for three generations. Benjamin Franklin trained his nephew James Franklin Jr. on the printing press in Philadelphia. After James’ father passed away, he returned to Newport to help his mother with the family printing press. Together, they started the Newport Mercury in 1758. Mercury is one of the longest running newspapers in American history and today is a Weekly tabloid journal published every Wednesday by the Edward A. Sherman Publishing Company.

Today, the press is back in the hands of the town, currently residing at the Newport Historical Society’s Museum, where the public can appreciate it.

“I think it takes on even greater significance in today’s digital World when news and information can spread in a fraction of a second,” Weisman said. “This unwieldy machine that played such a critical role in how locals obtained news from afar and near in both times of peace and War now serves as a reminder of how physically cumbersome and difficult mass communication once was.”

A plaque will be placed at the location to distinguish it as a National Historic Site in Journalism. See a complete list of past winners here.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit


Copyright © 1996-2015 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

Contact SPJ Headquarters
Employment Opportunities
Advertise with SPJ