The small, North Carolina newspaper in “the original Washington” has a big reputation among its peers and the loyal readers of the six-day, daily newspaper.
“Pulitzer on the Pamlico!” was the headline on April 13, 1990, as the publication proudly acknowledged having received the nation’s top journalism award: The Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service. Indeed, the “Voice of the Pamlico” (much of its readership is located along the Pamlico River) is believed to be the smallest daily newspaper to ever win the accolade in Pulitzer history.
The award came in recognition of a series of articles written by Mike Voss and Betty Mitchell Gray on cancer-causing chemicals in the city’s water supply. The series ultimately sparked changes in the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory requirements for smaller communities.
Another significant event in the newspaper’s history was the arrival of Ashley Brown Futrell on Nov. 15, 1949, as the newspaper’s editor and publisher. The renowned newspaperman had a tough start in the early days. “We bought nothing but a name,” he told an interviewer, “I came on Monday and had to go and collect enough money to make the payroll on Friday.”
To build readership, Futrell adopted a strategy to earn back trust from readers: “I threw out a national story anytime to get a local story in to the paper. … Some days the whole front page was local news. Advertising started picking up, and things were going along real well.”
From the early days when Futrell’s top advertiser told him, “You look all right, but damn your paper,” the Washington Daily News grew in circulation, advertising and respect throughout the region. His wife, Rachel Fox Futrell, became active in the paper so Futrell could serve the region in a different capacity, as state senator from 1965 to 1971.
Later, health concerns forced Futrell to enlist his son, Ashley B. “Brownie” Futrell Jr. to help run the business. In 1978, after graduating from Duke University, the younger Futrell continued to build on his parents’ success and became publisher of the newspaper while working side by side with the elder Futrell, who continued to write editorials and his popular ‘Puttering around the Pamlico’ column until his death in 2005.
Under Brownie Futrell’s guidance, the newspaper converted to morning delivery while adding the Sunday edition in September 1991 to capitalize on the success that came with Pulitzer Prize recognition.
In 2009, the Washington Daily News enjoyed a yearlong celebration honoring its 100-year anniversary by featuring weekly columns from former reporters, editors and employees.
The Futrells announced the sale of the Washington Daily News in 2010 to Washington Newsmedia LLC, a new company affiliated with Boone Newspapers Inc. In making the announcement, Brownie Futrell said, “I believe the change of ownership will both honor and extend my father’s vision and legacy of the role of our newspaper in the communities we serve.”
The Washington Daily News covers Beaufort County and surrounding communities. It is published six days a week.
The Washington Daily News and its employees strive:
- To produce exciting, top-quality publications focusing on Beaufort County and the Pamlico region.
- To serve the public interest by holding government and public officials accountable.
- To go above and beyond to meet or exceed the needs of our advertisers.
- To always report news timely, accurately and without bias.
- To edit and publish with integrity.
- To operate at a profit level that allows us to reinvest in our product and staff and to stand independent from outside influences.
- To take an active leadership role in the community.
- To fulfill our commitments.
- And, above all, to treat our readers, advertisers and business associates with professionalism and respect.
The Pamlico River is the principal source of beauty and progress in Beaufort County and neighboring counties served by the Washington Daily News. The market has a growing tourism trade and economic infrastructure supported by local manufacturing. Because of Washington’s mild climate, beautiful natural surroundings, historic setting and location near a major university and medical center (East Carolina University and Brody School of Medicine) the area is growing in popularity as a retirement destination. Industrial, agricultural, coastal riverfront and retiree housing developments are alive and healthy in Washington, North Carolina.
Washington is located at the junction of the Pamlico and Tar rivers in the state’s inland coastal region and marketed as “The Heart of the Inner Banks.” Washington is intersected by major highways: U.S. 17 and U.S. 264. Washington is 1.3 miles from the Pitt County line and 20 minutes from the City of Greenville. It is approximately 100 miles east of Raleigh, the state capital, and 25 miles west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Beaufort County: 47,585
City of Washington: 9,789
Washington and Beaufort County have four distinct seasons with generally mild winters and hot summers. Ice and snow are possible during the winter, but not frequent. Summer-like weather usually begins in May and extends into September. Summer days can be hot and humid, with frequent rain and thunderstorms.
Manufacturing, education, healthcare, agricultural.
The Beaufort County School system has 14 schools which serve more than 7,000 students. Beaufort County schools are of relatively recent construction, and quite modern. SAT scores in Beaufort County compare favorably, percentile for percentile, with any state in the union. The region is also served by Beaufort County Community College and nearby East Carolina University.
Recreation and Tourism
Tourism is a rapidly growing economic force in Beaufort County, and the numerous waterfront communities have attracted a number of families who choose to live here but work in professional occupations in adjoining counties. An influx of retirees has also had a positive effect on the economy. Many waterfront subdivisions have been created which are being marketed, at least in part, to retirees from out of state. Finally, recreation plays a major role in the economy of Beaufort County. The broad rivers and numerous creeks that grace Beaufort County attract many boaters and other outdoor recreation participants throughout the year. Hunting and fishing are popular, and people travel from hundreds of miles away to sail the calm waters of the Pamlico River.
Washington, the county seat and an All-America City, can be justifiably proud as the first town in America to be so named. James Bonner started the town on his own farm in the 1770s. After serving in the Continental Army, Bonner returned home and in 1776 renamed his town, originally called “Forks of the Tar,” for his commanding general, Washington. In 1705, Bath became the first incorporated town in North Carolina. It was selected by the English colonists for much the same reasons people choose to move both their businesses and their families to Beaufort County today: the agreeable climate, the vast expanses of oak and pine forests and the miles and miles of waterfront property.
Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce
Visit Little Washington