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It was founded as the Farmers' Friend in 1887, and was part of several mergers and name changes. In its early history it was aligned with the Democratic Party.
The first edition of the newspaper as the Weekly News and Review, appeared on March 18, 1922. Its immediate predecessor was the Florence News and Review, and its name was later changed to the Morning News Review. In February 1928 it purchased the Florence Daily Times and the name was changed to the Florence Morning News.
In 1945 it became the Florence Morning News. In 1956, then-editor Jack O'Dowd, the son of the newspaper's publisher, enraged the Ku Klux Klan by supporting the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision and he was run out of town, going to a job with the Chicago Sun-Times. The only other South Carolina newspaper that took the progressive stance in the 1950s and 1960s was the Greenwood Index Journal. O'Dowd was replaced by James A. Rogers, who while also somewhat progressive editorially, took a less confrontational posture. Rogers wrote several books on the region and was instrumental in the creation of Francis Marion College in 1970, now Francis Marion University. He retired as editor in 1975.
The Florence Morning News was purchased by Thomson Newspapers, later The Thomson Corporation in December 1981. Thomson worked to expand the newspaper from a Florence-focused newspaper to more regional coverage. It was extensively redesigned in 1992 and again in 1998 to emphasize coverage of the nine-county Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
The Morning News serves as the regional hub for four weekly newspaper publications also owned by BH Media: The Hartsville Messenger, The Lake City News and Post, the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise and The (Hemingway) Weekly Observer.
The Morning News operates online through scnow.com. That website houses not only the Morning News, but also the Hartsville Messenger, Weekly Observer, The Lake City News and Post, and the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise. Until Media General sold its entire newspaper division to Berkshire Hathaway, it also housed CBS affiliate WBTW.
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