Starting a newspaper “is worth doing, and we make our first public appearance with a heady sense that we can do it. Our confidence rests in part on the zest and skills of the staff we have recruited. Just as importantly, it rests on the need we find expressed all over Washington for a new perspective on local, national and world events.”
— From “Introducing The Washington Times,” Monday, May 17, 1982
The headline of the main front-page story conceded it was an eleventh-hour “miracle” that the first edition even got out the door. On Page 2, Prince Charles was eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child with Princess Diana, even as British Sea Harrier warplanes were strafing Argentine military vessels ahead of an expected invasion of the Falkland Islands.
President Reagan’s plan to abolish the Department of Education was mired in Congress. Actor Hugh Beaumont, the stern but wise father of “Leave It to Beaver” fame, had just died of a heart attack while visiting West Germany. The Atlantic Coast Conference’s basketball coaches were considering the introduction of a 45-second shot clock, and officials at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course were debating whether to crack down on rowdy behavior ahead of the 1982 Preakness.
The final “Business Brief” item of the day concerned plans by cranberry juggernaut Ocean Spray Inc. for the national rollout of a newfangled “aseptic container made of layers of paper, foil and polyethylene” for its fruit drinks, the first so-called “juice box.”
Every newspaper, every day, is a slice of history preserved in pulp and printer’s ink. That very first issue of The Washington Times, debuting at a time when — as even the paper’s first editorial noted — “so many papers, old and new, are closing,” was launched to fill a commercial and an ideological void.
The demise of the Washington Star nine months earlier left the capital of the free world a one-newspaper town in an era when there were just three national broadcast networks, no cable channels and no Internet, and just a handful of weekly newsmagazines. The liberal editorial tilt of the nation’s top news organs left a lot of room on the right for the upstart newspaper to cover stories and publish voices that others ignored and to pursue its mandate to champion “freedom, faith and family.”
Against some considerable odds, and in the face of vicissitudes both internal and external, the newspaper and its www.washingtontimes.com website continue to pursue that mandate daily 30 years later.
It has chronicled daily life in a time rich in historical significance, recording and commenting on five presidents and seven presidential elections; the end of the Cold War and the dawn of the global war on terrorism; the impeachment of a president and the dramatic cocaine arrest of a D.C. mayor; and tragedies in Chernobyl, Columbine, Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Beslan, Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colo.
The Times era also covers three Washington Redskins Super Bowl wins; the Republican Revolution of 1994 and the tea party revolt of 2010; the Black Monday market crash of 1987, the dot-com crash of 1999 and the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009; a presidential election that turned on hanging chads and one eight years later that produced the nation’s first black commander in chief; an earthquake in the Eastern U.S., two popes, 16 Olympic Games, and 30 Academy Awards “Best Picture” honorees.
Overcoming considerable skepticism in the industry and the marketplace, the newspaper will mark the milestone Tuesday with a symposium exploring issues of family, faith, freedom and service, followed by a gala dinner at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel featuring keynote speaker Donald H. Rumsfeld, secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, and remarks by the Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, spiritual head of the Unification Church and son of The Washington Times’ founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Also speaking will be Fox News investigative reporter John Stossel.
Washington Times Chairman Dr. Douglas D.M. Joo said he is “very proud” of what the newspaper has contributed to the history of this country over the past 30 years, helping to establish freedom, shape American culture and make the family healthier. He said The Washington Times “has more than lived up to the ideas” it said was the reason for its creation, noting that former President Ronald Reagan once described the newspaper as a “loud and powerful voice” that helped America win the Cold War.
“We are proud of what The Washington Times has done and what it has become, including its excellence in reporting,” Dr. Joo said. “The reporting is fair, neither right nor left, and its in-depth stories really tell the people what they need to know. We will continue that excellence in the future, providing focus on quality stories — those that impact people’s lives.”
Dr. Joo said those who read the newspaper will discover that “we have poured our heart into it,” reaffirming Rev. Moon’s mission of not only creating a newspaper, but also helping to create “a more reasonable world.”