A membership service organization representing newspaper publishers and editors of Texas daily newspapers.

718 West Fifth Street - Suite 200 - Austin, TX 78701-2796
Phone: 512.476.4351 - Fax: 512.476.0515 - email: info@tdna.org

TDNA Ceased Operations On
December 31, 2012


Celebrating Seventy-Five Years of Service and Leadership

By John H. Murphy,
executive vice president 1952-1984

"Those who drink the water must remember those who dug the well." - Ancient Chinese proverb

On Jan. 24, 1921, fourteen men, representing sixteen Texas daily newspapers, met in a hotel room in Waco and planted the seed that has grown to become the Texas Daily Newspaper Association - the largest single-state organization of its kind in the nation.

M.E. Foster, founder of the Houston Chronicle, was named chairman and A.E. Clarkson of the Houston Post was named secretary.

It was agreed that a permanent organization should be formed and on March 10, 1921, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, the Texas Newspaper Publishers Association became a reality.

  • The organization founders were:
  • Mr. Clarkson, who was named president;
  • Walter Dealey of the The Dallas Morning News, named vice president;
  • Robert H. Cornell, Houston Chronicle, named secretary-treasurer;
  • Kendall Brooks Cressey, Austin American-Statesman;
  • Tom C. Gooch, Dallas Times-Herald;
  • P.C. Edwards, Dallas Dispatch;
  • E.S. Fentress, Waco Tribune Herald;
  • B.B. Donnell, Wichita Falls Times;
  • Thomas E. Gaffney, Galveston Times;
  • Frank G. Huntress, San Antonio Express & Evening News;
  • Ward C. Mayborn, Houston Press;
  • Former Governor W.P. Hobby, The Beaumont Enterprise;
  • G.B. Dealey, The Dallas Morning News
  • C.E. Lombardi, The Galveston Daily News
  • W.H. Bagley, Fort Worth Record and Wichita Falls Record-News; and
  • G.J. Palmer, Special Commissioner, Houston.

The motivating force for the organization was the growing impact of the labor unions in the graphic arts industry.

To manage the work of the TNPA, G.J. Palmer, formerly general manager of The Houston Post, was retained, with the title of special commissioner. The primary work of Mr. Palmer and the organization was counseling publishers on negotiating labor contracts and giving cooperative support to newspapers facing work disruptions.

The decades that followed saw the following highlights in the TNPA/TDNA story, a story that defines the successes and the essentiality of the association in establishing its hallmark:


  • Frank R. Ahlgren succeeded the late G.J. Palmer as special commissioner and the first office was opened in Houston.
  • TNPA and Southern Newspaper Publishers Association agreed to operate a joint office in Dallas, headed by Joseph G. Camp. The membership reached 41 papers.
  • Harry B. Adsit, who replaced Mr. Camp, served until November 1938 and was succeeded by C.W. Tabb.
  • TNPA played a major role in bringing about the construction of the Southland Paper Mill in Lufkin.
  • TNPA agreed to subsidize the Southwest School of Printing in Dallas. The school's main function was to train production personnel.


  • In the early 40s, the association considered merging with the Texas Press Association, but elected to maintain its separate identity.
  • In 1946 the association broadened its interest in the area of newspaper production by establishing a printing laboratory at Dallas; increasing the school of engraving facilities; conducting a study of the tele-typesetter; and supporting the reforestation work of the Texas Forestry Association.
  • In October 1949, the membership voted to change the organization's name to the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, effective February 1950.
  • Following the resignation of Harry Adsit, Mike Murray served as acting secretary of the association until the reorganization was completed in 1951.


  • TDNA canceled its agreement with the SNPA and became an autonomous association. In 1951 a general reorganization was approved, a new constitution and by-laws affirmed, and the headquarters moved to Houston. The membership stood at 33 papers.
  • June 1, 1952, John H. Murphy was named secretary-manager, with offices in the Milam Building next door to the Houston Chronicle.
  • By 1954, the membership had grown to 52 papers. A bulletin service was started and plans were initiated for an advertising sales promotion program.
  • The program began in 1955 and continuing market research was sponsored, which produced the "Texas Markets & Media" studies - the first data on the readership, brand preference and demographics of the Texas newspaper audience.
  • TDNA led in the work of moving the Southwest School of Printing from Dallas to Sam Houston University.
  • TDNA joined the Texas Circulation Managers Association in establishing the "Newspaper in Classroom" program.
  • Editorial and Advertising seminars were established, and the association's college student intern training program expanded, at one time placing 150 students and TDNA papers.


  • Membership had grown to 71 papers. Working relationships between the American Newspaper Publishers Association, the Bureau of Advertising and other organizations within the newspaper business and the TDNA were established.
  • For the first time since its founding, the association had a well-rounded program of activities: advertising sales promotion; editorial and advertising seminars; intern program; recruiting; information services; and, for the first time, moved into the area of legislation.
  • The association incorporated as a non-profit organization, with 73 member papers in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.


  • March 1971, the association celebrated its 50th anniversary, meeting in its birthplace - Dallas.
  • September 1973, the association held its first meeting on foreign soil, with 190 members attending at Guadalajara, Mexico.
  • TDNA and other Texas media undertook their first cooperative legislative effort, as a result of the "Sharpstown Scandal," to get the Texas Open Records Act enacted.
  • Supported by State Controller Bob Bullock and Speaker Bill Clayton, TDNA led the effort that resulted in the Legislature repealing the sales tax on newspapers.
  • TDNA and Texas Press Association joined in efforts that succeeded in getting laws enacted that protect news media from evidentiary searches and the right to take legal action against violations of the Open Meetings Law.
  • Public Utility Commission ruled in favor of TDNA against Southwestern Bell's application to enter electronic publishing in Austin.


  • In 1984, John Murphy announced his voluntary retirement as executive vice president, ending 32 years of service during which the membership grew from 33 to 93 member papers.
  • TDNA and TPA established a media law hotline staffed by the Austin law firm of Clark, Thomas, Winters, and Shapiro, and attorney Mary Joe Carroll.
  • In December 1984 Philip A. Berkebile, formerly general manager of the Nebraska Press Association, was named executive vice president of the organization.
  • In March 1985, TDNA headquarters moved from Houston to Austin.
  • TDNA joined six other media organizations to form Texas Media, a coalition to represent news media in Freedom of Information matters.
  • Legislature again enacted laws allowing sales tax on newspapers, effective January 1984.
  • In 1987, after vigorous legislative efforts by TDNA and TPA, the Legislature repealed the sales tax on newspapers.
  • With relocation of TDNA offices to Austin, the association made legislative involvement a primary activity.


  • The 90s began with the most intense and controversial legislative proposals the Texas newspaper business had faced in all of its prior years. Fortunately, by relocating the headquarters to Austin, the association was "on the grounds" and performed with traditional effectiveness.
  • The first issue was a bill that proposed the imposition of severe restrictions and fees governing the recycling of newsprint and other products used in the production of newspapers. The same legislature considered a bill to renew the sales tax on newspapers. Both were defeated.
  • In 1993 a Senate bill, supported by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and related allies, proposed the deregulation of the telephone company and the fast-moving telecommunications industry. If it had ecome law, the bill would have given SW Bell virtually a blank check and unlimited freedom to enter the electronic publishing field, free of Public Utility Commission's regulation of rates, profits or area of services.
  • May 1995, House bill 2128 - the so-called Telecommunications Bill - was passed by the legislature, limiting SW Bell's delivery of electronic information and keeping it under control by the PUC. During the prior two years TDNA and TPA, at high cost in money, time and effort, battled SW Bell and its allies, striving to protect not just the interest of newspapers but also consumers, competitive phone companies and others who would have been severely affected if SW Bell had achieved its goal.  This legislative session also revamped the Texas Open Records act to include "information" in an electronic medium and established uniform costs for that information not to exceed "actual costs."  The Act's name was also changed to the Texas Public Information Act.
  • In 1997 over 300 individual pieces of legislation sought to effect the newspaper industry.  A legislative advisory committee was created in conjunction with the Texas Press Association to analyze and determine a position of support or opposition to each of these bills.  House bill 951 was passed to clarify technical corrections in the Public Information Act.  The bill also established e-mail requests for public information as valid requests.
  • During the 1999 legislative session two major pieces of open government legislation passed.  House bill 156 revoked an often used loophole in the Texas Open Meetings Act that allowed governmental bodies to meet behind closed doors when receiving comments from "staff."  Also, Senate bill 1851 established a public information sign to be posted by governmental bodies that informs requestors of their rights under the law.   The bill also shortened the time period for requests of Attorney General's opinions.  In short, the bill made the Act more user friendly.
  • During the 77th Legislature in 2001, TDNA and TPA closely followed about 200 bills. It was a successful session, with TDNA/TPA helping defeat bills that would move public notice to the internet and close records from public scrutiny. TDNA/TPA also helped pass HB 371, which extends the Open Meetings Act to community action agencies and HB 1544, which clarifies access to motor vehicle records and helped settle litigation over these records. During the session, TDNA also resolved a situation with the Comptroller’s office that could have resulted in newspapers having to charge sales tax for ads that are placed on the internet. As a result of meetings between the Comptroller and TDNA members and staff, a ruling was issued that clarifies all advertising is exempt from taxation whether it is online or in the newspaper.

Since its inception TDNA has been dedicated to fulfilling its creed - Service and Leadership - not only for newspapers, but in the best interest of the people of Texas.