History and origin of The News-Gazette

Origins of the newspaper can be traced back to the Urbana Union, first published in 1852. Over the next 70 years, the paper went through several name changes and mergers. The modern News-Gazette was established in 1919, when David W. Stevick, owner of the Champaign Daily News, purchased the Champaign Daily Gazette, merging the two papers.

Mr. Stevick was an active voice in the community. He enthusiastically promoted civic causes, and sharply criticized activities that he felt were not in the public interest. His goal was simple: Get things done. “Be a Booster . . . And a Builder” was one of his famous editorial slogans.

Following Mr. Stevick’s passing in 1935, his widow, Helen M. Stevick, served as president and publisher for more than three decades. Under her guidance, The News-Gazette continued its internal growth and progress as well as expanding its community involvement.

In 1952, the paper celebrated its 100th year of service with a Centennial Progress Edition. In that issue, Mrs. Stevick said in a special message to readers: “A century of service does not offer a resting point. It challenges new achievement. It commands new and even greater toil and intelligence in leading Champaign-Urbana and East Central Illinois forward.”

An expansion program in 1965 saw the construction of a new press building to house a high-speed rotary press, the broadening of news content to appeal to a wide variety of readers, and the introduction of a Saturday morning edition, making The News-Gazette a seven-day-a-week publication. Technology has shaped the progress of the paper. In July 1977, a new offset press made possible improved print and color reproduction.

The original Downtown location was at 48 Main Street and in late 1984 The Stevick Building at 15 Main Street was completed to provide more space for the increasing number of employees.

Since David Stevick’s death in 1935, Mrs. Stevick and Mrs. Chinigo (Stevick’s daughter) carried out his wish for the newspaper to remain locally owned and locally operated. Through many challenges and lucrative offers the paper has remained independent – responsive and responsible to its community. Mrs. Chinigo assumed the leadership of The News-Gazette after her mother’s passing in 1967, until her own passing in 2002 – the same year the paper celebrated its 150th anniversary.

As an only child with no heirs, Mrs. Chinigo made elaborate plans to ensure that the newspaper would not be sold to a major corporation. Stock of the company had been put into a living trust with Mrs. Chinigo as primary trustee. Plans called for the trust to transfer ownership to a charitable foundation – The Marajen Stevick Foundation.

The News-Gazette has striven for journalistic excellence, as well as active involvement in the community. The newspaper and its staff have been the recipients of numerous awards for outstanding reporting, feature writing, photography, commentary, advertising and design.

Then publisher, Helen Stevick, and her Daughter, Marajen, read the “Centennial Progress Edition” of The News-Gazette, in front of the old printing press. The News-Gazette celebrated 100 years of printing news in East Central Illinois in 1952.

A young Marajen Stevick Chinigo learns how to operate the linotype machine that was used in the press room in the original office at 48 Main Street, in Champaign.