History of Seaton Publishing Co. July 16, 2009
When a Seaton first started publishing a newspaper, writer Charles Dickens was just born, Louisiana was admitted as the 18th state in the union, and the United States waged a war against the British Empire in the War of 1812.
Seaton newspaper roots run seven generations deep.
With father Edward and sons Ned and Jay Seaton’s expected purchase of The Daily Sentinel, this newspaper joins that storied history of journalism.
“You know, my dad always wanted to know, ‘Why, why do you people study politics and the arts instead of going to business school?’ ” Edward Seaton said of the predominant family career track.
“I guess it goes back on the Seaton side back to my grandfather, and it goes back on my mother’s side one more generation, which is the Beck family.”
William Winston Seaton and a partner from 1812 to 1864 published the National Intelligencer, the most important daily newspaper of its time in Washington, D.C.
The present Seaton company started when Fay N. Seaton in 1915 purchased The Manhattan Mercury in Kansas.
He had been chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Joseph Bristow, who lost his seat as a result of the Bull Moose split in the Republican Party. Fay N. Seaton ran the Mercury until his death in 1952.
His two sons ran the family business with him. R.M. Seaton operated the Coffeyville Daily Journal in Kansas for many years, and Fred Seaton ran the Hastings Tribune in Nebraska.
Fred Seaton achieved some fame as a U.S. senator and later in the Eisenhower administration.
His major accomplishments in government were orchestrating, as assistant secretary of defense, the Army-McCarthy hearings that brought down Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and shepherding through statehood for Alaska and Hawaii in 1959 as President Eisenhower’s secretary of interior.
Edward Seaton’s branch of the family has an additional foothold in American journalism. In 1875,
Edward Seaton’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side, M. M. Beck, founded the Holton Recorder, a Kansas weekly. His oldest son, Ned Beck, served as managing editor of the Chicago Tribune for 30 years. The Tribune’s journalism prizes are called the Beck Awards.
Edward Seaton began his own journalism career at the Coffeyville, Kan., newspaper.
“I started out polishing the brass on the steps leading out of the Coffeyville Daily Journal,” Edward Seaton said. “My dad ran that paper.”
He next worked in the composing room, when type was still set in hot lead, before being promoted into newsrooms from which his leadership has extended to the international level.
He is president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors Foundation, and has been president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and president of the Inter American Press Association.
Edward Seaton’s interest in journalism throughout the hemisphere started when he was a Fulbright scholar in Ecuador. He was instrumental in the Chapultepec Declaration of 1994, a statement for freedom of the press in North and South America.
He is editor in chief at the Mercury, where Ned Seaton is general manager. Jay Seaton practices law in Kansas City, Mo.
A newspaper has always had a role in community building, Edward Seaton said.
“It tells the story of its community, which is the most important thing, and it also serves as a watchdog and then provides information with which people can organize their lives.”