Located in the "Cradle of Tennessee Journalism," where the state's first newspaper was printed by George Roulstone in 1791—also the third newspaper West of the Appalachian Mountains—The Rogersville Review was founded by Will Robertson on July 23, 1885. Under its current names, as well as The Holston Review, it has remained the newspaper of record for Hawkins County and its communities for more than a century.
While the newspaper began as a weekly publication, today, it is printed twice weekly on Wednesday and Friday.
One of the newspaper’s most celebrated publishers was the late Eleanor Sheets, who passed away before The Review's centennial celebration on July 18, 1985.
The Newport Plain Talk employed Eleanor and her husband, the late J. Fred Sheets, before they relocated to Rogersville in 1932 at the request of Major George L. Berry, president of the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants Union, which was headquartered in Hawkins County at that time.
Berry hired the Sheets, along with Spurgeon Akers, to manage The Review.
Though Akers left the paper soon afterward, it was in 1958 that Fred, who served as publisher and editor, passed away and left the paper to his widow.
THE SHEETS ERA
Eleanor became the new publisher and editor, and continued to publish The Review until her death.
A legendary character, among the first female publishers, Mrs. Sheets was widely recognized as a champion of her community.
During her years at The Review, she often campaigned for safer highways and is credited with having coined the phrase “Bloody 11W,” in the years before the construction of four-lane “superhighway” U.S. 11W through Hawkins County.
Sheets’ keen publishing ability took her all the way to the White House in the 1960s, where she was the only female publisher among dozens of other members of the press to dine with President John F. Kennedy in the White House Dining Room. (Sheets is pictured above in a white hat, seated next to President Kennedy.)
Her columns were well read and bear re-reading just for their construction and use of words, if not the content that offers readers today a glimpse of journalism in another era.
Copies are available for perusing at The Review office, as well as on microfilm through the Hawkins County Library System.
It was Eleanor who also introduced one of the Southeast’s first African-American columnists, Beatrice Cope, who began writing for The Review at the height of the Segregation Era. Mrs. Cope continued writing for The Review until shortly before her death in the early 2000s.
Other popular columnists introduced by Sheets included the late “Snookie” Burns and the late Mildred Shortt, whose local viewpoints and stories were a popular read for many years.
It was also in Eleanor's time that The Rogersville Review became the last such letterpress weekly newspaper in Tennessee.
In July 1981, a conversion was made to cold type, photocomposition, and other state-of-the-art mechanical processes. And today, well the process is even more refined, with pages constructed on computers, sent electronically to the Greeneville Sun, where it is sent directly to a plate and then put on the press to print.
A TIME OF CHANGE
At the time of Eleanor's death, her grandson, W. Andes Hoyt, who had served as associate editor, assumed the role of editor and publisher.
In 1988, he and his sister, Lace Hoyt Stevens sold The Review to Jones Media, Inc., led by John M. Jones Sr., and his family, which includes the president of Hawkins County Publishers Inc., Gregg Jones.
Doug Morris was named publisher and editor on May 23, 1988, brining 25 years of newspaper experience with him, having started as a reporter at the Morristown Daily Gazette-Mail.
Following Morris on October 15, 1990, Ellen M. Addison (Myatt) was named publisher. Myatt previously served as publisher of The Smyth County News, Marion, Virginia.
It was during Myatt’s tenure that The Review became a twice-weekly publication.
In 1997, Kevin Burcham, former advertising director for The Mountaineer in Waynesville, N.C. was named publisher and editor. During this time, The Review moved to 316 E. Main Street (pictured above), from it's Washington Street location, where it had been since 1953.
On January 15, 2001, Bill Parsons was named publisher.
It was during his tenure that The Review converted to an all-mail delivery system.
On June 19, 2006, Ellen May Addison Myatt resumed leadership after serving nearly 10 years as publisher of The Business Journal for Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia, Blountville, Tennessee.
On July 1, 2009, Jesse Lindsey was named editor and publisher of the newspaper.
During Lindsey’s time at The Review, a lifestyles publication Discover Hawkins County Magazine, was launched.
On November 11, 2013, Tommy Campbell was named editor and publisher, bringing more than 33 years of experience in publishing newspapers in Alabama and North Carolina.
Through the years, The Rogersville Review has expanded its news coverage to include all Hawkins County communities, as well as coverage from events in neighboring Hancock and Grainger Counties.
Today, The Review not only publishes two editions of its original newspaper, but also the Discover magazine series, Hawkins County Great Homesearch, and Hawkins County Marketplace.
The newspaper’s online presence also continues to grow, meeting the ever-changing needs of 21st Centuy journalism, with the establishment of the new, interactive website and online subscription service in 2014.
The Review also offers daily news updates and additional reader commentary on Facebook.