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The Ruston Daily Leader is the daily newspaper in Ruston in Lincoln Parish in North Louisiana. The Daily Leader is published Sunday morning and Monday through Friday afternoons. The circulation in 2010 was 5,418, but the paper claimed a readership of some 15,000. It is the official journal of the Lincoln Parish School Board, the parish government, sheriff's department, and most municipalities in the coverage area.
On August 29, 1969, The Daily Leader physical plant, then at 301 West Mississippi Avenue in Ruston, burned on a Friday morning. Little was retrieved except bound copies of old editions and material for that day's paper. Because of the fire, the lead-type printing, much like what Johannes Gutenberg and Ottmar Mergenthaler had invented and improved, was replaced by the photomechanical, digitized, computer-based system known as offset printing. That day the newspaper, an abbreviated four-age edition composed by "cold-type", still reached subscribers by 4 p.m.
By the late fall of 1969, The Daily Leader acquired, renovated, and occupied the former Ritchie Grocer Company building facing the Illinois Central Railroad at 212 West Park Avenue. With subsequent additions and improvements, that structure remains the physical home of the existing newspaper plant.
From 1962 to 1980, The Daily Leader was published by Tom Kelly, who had previously worked for several other small-town newspapers.Kelly now edits a monthly newspaper, The Piney Woods Journal in Dodson in Winn Parish, Louisiana, geared toward the forestry industry.
The Daily Leader is currently published by Ruston Newspapers, Inc., name of owner(s) not available.
Wiley W. Hilburn (1938-2014), a newspaper columnist and former long-term chairman of the Journalism Department at Louisiana Tech University, wrote for The Daily Leader as a high school and college student. On May 5, 1959, Hilburn interviewed Governor Earl Kemp Long at the Ruston home of Long's sister in the aftermath of the Blaze Starr affair. It was quite an opportunity for a 21-year-old journalist to ask the sitting governor, plagued with bipolar disorder, about the Federal Bureau of Investigation ransacking an apartment in New Orleans that Long shared with Starr. Hilburn interviewed Long again in Ruston in August of that year and found his physical condition had deteriorated, but Long was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1959 and the next year for Louisiana's 8th congressional district, since disbanded some three decades after Long's death in 1960. Hilburn subsequently was the editor of The Daily Leader, a position he soon vacated for graduate studies and the editorial board of Shreveport Times. He returned to Louisiana Tech to head the journalism department in 1968.
Perhaps the best known staff member on the The Daily Leader is the long-term sports editor Orville Kince "Buddy" Davis (born 1946), a graduate of Ruston High School who in 1969 received his bachelor's degree from the Louisiana Tech Journalism Department. He became sports editor in 1970, after working first as a sports reporter. As the sports editor, he succeeded an elderly retired military officer, Major Lawrence J. Fox, who had fought in both world wars. In 2007, Davis served on the five-member All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America. He is a past recipient of the title "Mr. Basketball" from the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches, an award presented annually to one who has made a lasting impression on the sport within Louisiana.Though his job duties entail all sporting events in Lincoln Parish, Davis has covered Super Bowls, Olympic Games, and many other sports conclaves far from Ruston. On June 27, 2009, Davis received the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame at a dinner in Natchitoches. In 1976, he turned down an offer to become city editor in order to continue his avid interest in athletic competition. His tenure at The Daily Leader is believed to have been the longest in the history of the newspaper.In his career, Davis has covered such figures as Karl Malone, Terry Bradshaw, and Leon Barmore. Coach Eddie Robinson of the historically black Grambling State University Tigers once told Sports Illustrated that he considered Davis "like a son".
On July 5, 2013, Davis suffered a stroke and was hospitalized at Northern Louisiana Medical Center in Ruston. Friends raised money to help with his medical expenses, and he hopes to return to The Daily Leader sports desk. As of September 29, 2013, Davis was back on the job in a limited role. Residing temporarily at Princeton Place, a rehabilitation center on White Street in Ruston, he dictates his stories into a voice recorder, from which they are transcribed for use in the newspaper.
The current Ruston Daily Leader publisher, Rick Hohlt (born 1956),also holds the title of vice-president of Ruston Newspapers, Inc.The current news editor is Elizabeth DeGrie, a Louisiana Tech graduate.