The Citizens' Voice
40th Anniversary

The Citizens’ Voice celebrated its 40th anniversary on Oct. 5, 2018. Striking employees of the Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company, which published the Times Leader, started The Citizens’ Voice in 1978. The Citizens’ Voice added the Sunday edition in 1993 after the closure of the Sunday Independent. Times-Shamrock Communications bought The Citizens’ Voice in 2000.

Gathering, distributing news has changed

Gathering, distributing news has changed

In 1978, typewriters and notebooks were a reporter’s best friends. Today, it’s a mobile phone and a Twitter account that are must-have tools. Here are some of the changes in the way a newspaper is produced since The Citizens’ Voice launched in 1978. Then When the...

Top 40 sports moments of the last 40 years

Slow news day? It happens to the best newspapers and most-watched networks in America’s smallest and biggest cities. Relying on the entire Wyoming Valley (and then some), however, The Citizens’ Voice sports staff seemingly always has something to write about. A...

Since the beginning: 40-year subscribers

Since the beginning: 40-year subscribers

When The Citizens’ Voice started 40 years ago, it had dedicated employees, companies advertising with the new paper and four unions sticking together. None of that would have mattered if it hadn’t been for someone else — you. Locals who subscribed to the new endeavor...

THE HISTORY

1978
Members of four unions — The Newspaper Guild, Typographical Union and the photoengraving and pressmen units of the Graphic Communications International Union — go on strike against Capital Cities Communications, publisher of the Times Leader, Evening News and Wilkes-Barre Record. The strikers launched their own newspaper — The Citizens’ Voice — on Oct. 9.

1982
The strike ends without a settlement as Capital Cities moves to decertify the last of the striking unions. The unions continue to operate The Citizens’ Voice.

1984
The Citizens’ Voice acquires its own press in June and consolidates its operations into its current building at 75 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre. Before the move, the newspaper’s news, advertising and circulation offices were located on the second floor of the Hotel Sterling and the plate and printing facility were in Plymouth.

1989
The unions incorporate The Citizens’ Voice, shifting ownership of the newspaper and its assets to the original strikers and retirees. Of the 204 people who went on strike in 1978, eight returned to the Times Leader.

1993
The Voice published its first Sunday edition on May 16.

2000
Times-Shamrock Communications, owner of The Scranton Times, purchased The Citizens’ Voice in May.

2017
In April, the Voice switched from its familiar tabloid format to a broadsheet newspaper.

FACTS ABOUT THE CITIZENS’ VOICE

The Citizens’ Voice was first published as an interim newspaper published by the Wilkes-Barre Council of Newspaper Unions for the duration of the labor dispute. On settlement of the dispute, the intention was to cease publication. Two hundred out of 225 of the original Times Leader employees representing four local unions went on strike and formed an employee-owned newspaper called The Citizens’ Voice.

The first edition of The Citizens’ Voice made its debut Oct. 9, 1978.

The first issue of The Citizens’ Voice had a circulation of 45,000.

At one time, all employees received the same salary from the publisher to maintenance worker.

In 1989, The Citizens’ Voice Inc. was formed and the original strikers and retirees became shareholders.

Times-Shamrock took ownership of The Citizens’ Voice on May 1, 2000.

The Citizens’ Voice’s first newsroom, circulation and advertising offices were located at 1 N. Main St., just off Public Square. The newspaper operated for years out of the second floor of the Hotel Sterling. Operations moved to its present facility — 75 N. Washington St. — in June 1984. The building was formerly a warehouse for Fowler, Dick & Walker The Boston Store.

The company’s color is orange because when the employees went to purchase delivery tubes they bought orange tubes at a substantial discount because no one wanted orange.

The Citizens’ Voice made its debut as a tabloid because owners of the Wyoming Valley Observer — a weekly tab newspaper — allowed staffers to use their press.

In 2014, The Citizens’ Voice launched a new Sunday broadsheet publication called the Greater Pittston Progress.

The Citizens’ Voice published its first Sunday edition on May 16, 1993.

The Citizens’ Voice was named the Newspaper of the Year by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association in 2011.

The Citizens’ Voice Facebook page was created in 2009 and, in 2018, has more than 30,000 likes.

Jack Williams was the first publisher of The Citizens’ Voice.

Community editor Leonarda Bilbow was one of the first “non-strikers” hired by The Citizens’ Voice. She was hired in 1979. Now in her 39th year, she has the distinction of being the longest Citizens’ Voice employee in the history of the paper.

Former Ashley mayor and current Wilkes-Barre Twp. councilman, John Jablowski was one of the first Citizens’ Voice carriers.

Former staff writer Frank Zini went on to become managing editor of the New York Post.

Neil Corbett spent 34 years as the paper’s sports editor before his retirement in 2013. He was the last of the original strikers to leave the newsroom.

Ed Hourigan Sr., the son of the Hourigan Family who sold the original Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company to Cap Cities, would be hired in the early 1990s as The Citizens’ Voice publisher.

Presston, The Citizens’ Voice “orange” mascot was born in 1996.

While Times-Shamrock owns newspapers, website, billboards and radio stations, in the late 1990s The Citizens’ Voice had a weekly television show called Northeast Real Estate Review hosted by Judi Shaver which ran on FOX every Sunday morning.

King’s College is the school from which most of the newsroom staff graduated. Penn State University has the second-most graduates, followed by Syracuse University and Misericordia University.

The Citizens’ Voice has won many awards for its special sections, including Gameface and JumpStart! Gameface highlights the best in high school football and debuted in 2007. JumpStart! debuted in 2010 and covers the latest entertainment events throughout the Wyoming Valley.

The Citizens’ Voice switched from its familiar tabloid format to broadsheet in April 2017.

The online feature NEPA Bazaars debuted in 2012 to catalogue, map and celebrate the annual summer tradition of church and fire company bazaars. It now has nearly 10,000 likes on Facebook.

The Citizens’ Voice has been a primary sponsor of Valley Santa for 35 years. The program relies on financial donations to purchase Christmas gifts for children whose families could not afford to buy them.

The Citizens’ Voice has co-sponsored the Wyoming Valley Athletic Association’s Dr. George P. Moses Senior All-Star Classic since 1979.

ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter wrote a story about Greg Skrepenak for The Citizens’ Voice in September 1988.

The number-one movie on the day The Citizens’ Voice debuted, Oct. 5, 1978, was “Grease” and a ticket cost $2.34, according to playback.fm. The number one song was “Kiss You All Over” by Exile and the number one fiction novel was “Chesapeake” by James Michener.

The Citizens’ Voice took over presenting the George Hooper Memorial Award in 1997. It’s given to the top wrestler each year in the Wyoming Valley Conference.

The bar and restaurant ads in the Citizens’ Voice that run with all type and no artwork are called “style ads.” The reason they are called “style ads” is that all the ads are set in the same font with no artwork permitted. Back when the CV was formed, the employees realized the potential for getting this business if they could accept late ads. Most bars and restaurants work late night and sleep most of the day. Advertisers would call to place ads at 2 p.m. for the next day’s paper. Trying to get their ads earlier was a losing effort so we decided to work with their deadlines, but the ads could be copy only and all set in the same type and all must run on the together. That is how style ads were born. Forty years later they still exist and are looked to regularly by our readers for dining specials and things to do.