Tears glistened in Tonnya Kennedy’s eyes Friday as she stood in the pressroom holding the final edition of the Nashville Banner.
Kennedy - the afternoon newspaper’s managing editor - put on a brave smile as she held the paper up for all the Banner employees to see.
There were hugs and tears, looks of shell-shock and a scramble for copies as they came off the press. Two hours later, the presses slowed to a stop and the 122-year-old newspaper was out of business - a victim of declining circulation.
The headline read “End of Story.”
It was a long and proud story of a scrappy newspaper that began on April 10, 1876, when the Stahlmans, a German immigrant family, published the first issue. The Stahlmans sold it to Gannett Co. in 1972, which sold it to three Nashville businessmen in 1979.
The Banner’s circulation began declining in the ‘70s and was down to 39,838 this month, compared with 63,000 a decade ago. Projections showed it would be down to 25,000 in two years.