NNA: The Early Years

The National Newspaper Association (NNA) was founded as the National Editorial Association (NEA) on Feb. 19, 1885 in New Orleans. Fifty newspaper men and two women answered the call of Benjamin Briggs Herbert, publisher of the Red Wing (MN) Advance-Republican, to form a non-profit association to promote the common interests of newspapers.

The founding was hampered by several false starts as efforts were made to organize members of various state press groups into a national organization. However, these hurdles were eventually overcome, aided by the fact that the railroads of the day commonly issued free passes to newspaper people as a promotional gimmick.

The first real convention convened in Cincinnati on Feb. 23, 1886. At this meeting, President Benjamin Briggs Herbert articulated the new NEA’s mission to foster journalistic education, create literature for professional development, publish a journal for the assistance of members and to update the laws of libel.

The National Editorial Association was founded to serve America’s community press. In 1887, the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA) was organized in Rochester, NY, to serve the larger daily newspapers. The two groups began a long tradition of joining forces for mutual interest while maintaining the independence required for the service of their diverse and different memberships. ANPA later merged with other industry groups to form the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

The NEA’s first full-time staff position was established with the hiring of Herbert C. Hotaling, publisher of the Blue Earth County Enterprise of Mapleton, MN. From his office located in St. Paul, MN, the new staff secretary initiated an engraving department to provide mail order halftones and line cuts, with commissions dedicated to supporting the association. In 1923, a full-time Washington representative was created to keep members informed of legislative matters through the NEA Bulletin.

In 1922, the nation’s state press association managers founded their own organization — the National Association of State Press Field Managers. This group later changed its name to Newspaper Association Managers (NAM).

In 1933, NEA created an organization called the Weekly Newspaper Representatives to provide a One Order – One Bill advertising service and another subsidiary, Newspaper Advertising Service, Inc., which took over the old engraving service provided by the association. The Weekly Newspaper Representatives was later renamed American Newspaper Representatives, Inc. (ANR) and was sold to its current owners in 1995.

During the post-war years, the suburban newspapers began to grow. The same period saw the emergence of shoppers and handbills, publications that provided fodder for much convention discussion among paid community newspapers. The market changes led to the establishment of a Suburban Section within NEA. In 1971, this section separated from NEA to form the Suburban Newspaper Association (SNA).

In 1958, NEA moved to Washington, DC, to keep a closer eye upon legislation. Two years later, Theodore A. Serrill was hired as executive vice president.

In 1962, NEA purchased Publishers’ Auxiliary, then a 97-year-old newspaper, from The FWP Corporation and combined it with the NEA bulletin, which had been renamed The National Publisher.

With the establishment of the advertising services, Publishers’ Auxiliary and a broader legislative agenda, it soon became apparent that the NEA was no longer an "editorial" association. At a 1964 meeting in Dallas, the NEA was renamed the National Newspaper Association and the headquarters were moved to the National Press Building in downtown Washington, DC.  In 1977, the association's offices were moved to 1627 K Street, NW in Washington, DC. In 1993, NNA moved its office to 1525 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, VA. In 1998, NNA moved its offices to 1010 N. Glebe Road, Arlington, VA.

In April 2002, NNA moved its offices to Columbia, MO, where it had partnered with the Missouri School of Journalism.

In 2011, NNA concluded its relationship with the University of Missouri and opened a new office in Columbia, MO, to serve the membership. NNA engaged American PressWorks Inc., its government relations manager, to operate the headquarters in Falls Church, VA.