Review celebrates 135

By on October 30, 2013

With an average of about 30 pages per week and a circulation of approximately 8,000, and more than 25,000 readers, The Ephrata Review remains one of the largest weekly newspapers in Pennsylvania after 135 years of service.

The forerunner of The Ephrata Review was The Saturday Review, founded by the late David Von Neida and his brother J. Wesley Von Neida in 1878 and was published in a small building on the soutwest corner of Lake and East Main streets. Several years later the paper was purchased by H. Sine Rice of Allentown who moved the plant to the Keller Block (currently the building occupied by the Ephrata Flea Market. On Feb. 2, 1883, The Saturday Review was issued under new ownership, comprised of John J. Yeager, Jr., and his brother Charles S. Yeager. At the time it was a four-page edition with plenty of advertising on the front page. Later that year the name was changed to The Ephrata Review. In 1886, the plant was moved to its longtime home at 50 East Main Street and in November of that year, Charles S. Yeager assumed the business. He died on June 21, 1938 after 55 years as publisher, and the publication was taken over by his son , Charles S. Yeager, Jr.

In 1942, The Review purchased the Denver Press and in 1951, the Ephrata Ensign. Charles S. Yeager, Jr. died in 1946 and the publication was continued by his wife, Miriam Reddig Yeager, the widow of former Review General Manager Ray Harnish who died on Jan. 5, 1970. Charles S. Yeager III was later appointed to the general manager position. Mrs. Harnish passed away in May of 1990.

The son-in-law of Harnish, David Nagle served a short stint as publisher and had refurbished the former J.J. Newberry Building at 1 East Main Street in 1986 before moving the paper’s operations there in January of 1987.

While The Review reported in the summer of that year that operations at the then 108-year-old paper could cease, several weeks later it was announced that Lancaster Newspapers Inc. had purchased The Review. At the same time, LNP also purchased the Lititz Record Express and Lancaster Farming and named Robert Campbell the general manager of all three publications. Campbell remained in that position until 1997, when he was succeeded by William Burgess, who remains in that capacity today. A fourth company, Susquehanna Printing, also operates from the 1 East Main Street site.

From its origins on East Main Street and Lake, to its most familiar home at 50 East Main, to its current site at 1 East Main Street, The Ephrata Review has always delivered hometown news each week that can’t be found anywhere else. In the past several decades, The Ephrata Review has received dozens of state Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards and twice finished runner-up in the Sweepstakes contest which honors the Outstanding Newspaper in each division.

The Review now shares its staff with the Lititz Record which includes an editor, associate editor, two full-time staff writers, two sports editors, two part-time writers and a full and part-time photographer. In its 135 years, The Review has had just 10 different editors. But from editor number one, John Snader (from 1886-1917) to number 10 Andrew Fasnacht (1993-present), The Ephrata Review has seem dramatic changes in technologies for producing the newspaper.

According to newspaper reports, much of the Review’s publishing equipment was upgraded during the eight years that Charles Yeager Jr. ran the paper. But one of the most noticeable changes came in 1965 when an offset press was added at the Review building, bringing about more crisp reproduction, particularly with the photographs which switched from woodcuts to negative imaging. Also quite noticeable was the addition of color in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In its early days, color positioning was quite limited and had to be sent down to Lancaster for processing. Color prints also had to be done out of house. But in the years to come, the addition of new prepress equipment, press upgrades and eventually digital photography allow for in-house processing, greater color capabilities and more flexibility for the photgraphers who don’t have to wrestle with color and black and white film. Then, shortly after the turn of the century, The Ephrata Review took another big step as it closed the door on its wax and paste layout room and moved completely into the world of computerized pagination for page makeup. Today, all stories and photos which appear in each issue of The Review are housed as computer files which are called up and placed on pages as needed. The final result is more color, faster and higher quality reproduction, higher quality placement of the articles and photos, and a more efficient use of content.

Other changes included a shift from front page classified advertising and inside news stories to the top stories beinbg published on the front page with classifieds listed near the back. When the name changed from the Saturday Review to The Ephrata Review in July of 1883, so did the publication date, to Fridays before eventually going to Thursdays for many decades, and finally to Wednesday as it is today.

The paper today is full of color, hard news, regular hometown features, front line coverage of high school sports and one of the most active Letters To The Editors pages found anywhere.

Community-wise the Review property on the square in Ephrata serves as a home for many town activities.

Not only is The Ephrata Review the primary source for hometown news in this area, it has also served as an historic record over those 135 years, filling organization and business scrapbooks with photos and articles which chronicle their year-to-year activities.

A History of Review Editors:

John Snader (1886-1917)

Arthur Yeager (1917-30)

Fred Janda (1930-46)

P.L. Diefenderfer (1946-56)

Frank "Fonz" Naddeo (1956-78)

Robert Gregg (1978-84)

Mike Miller (1984-86)

Stanford Hyman* (1986-1990)

Joe Savage (1990-93)

Andrew Fasnacht (1993-present)

*Note: Martin Pfleiger and Hyman were co-editors in 1986.

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