During its coverage of the case in the winter of 1857, a decade-old weekly called the Lewiston Falls Journal rebilled itself as The Daily Journal, if only for 27 days.

At the time, Nelson Dingley Jr., fresh out of Dartmouth College, owned half the paper.

He recalled later in life that when Knight’s trial got underway, “we published a small daily sheet containing a full report of the proceedings.”

The first issue of The Daily Journal on Feb. 16, 1857. It began a three-week run of daily papers by the otherwise-weekly Lewiston Falls Journal aimed at covering the trial of accused Poland killer George Knight. Poland Historical Society

Dingley, who later became governor and a powerful member of Congress, took on the job of reporting on the case.

The short-lived daily consisted of four pages, three of them typically focused entirely on the case under the heading “Trial of George Knight of Poland, for murder, before the Supreme Court of Maine at Auburn, Androscoggin County, commencing Feb. 16, 1857,” and proceeded to list the attorneys involved for each side.

Dingley said that churning out the daily news from the courtroom “entailed a large amount of work in an office ill-prepared for such an enterprise.”


Its account leaned heavily on the transcriptions of the proceedings by J.D. Pulsifer, the first serious effort to capture the words spoken throughout a trial in Maine, including great quantities of exceedingly legalistic verbiage that must have left many readers confused.

The paper’s daily accounts of the Knight case “would not go far to satisfy the sensation-loving public of the present,” the Journal noted in a 1906 review of one of the issues.

Instead, it described the coverage as “a simple, unadorned story of events, somewhat different from the tale of the modern reporter where every action and detail is hashed and rehashed, analyzed and picked to pieces. But such is the public. What they want, so they must have.”

Looking back on the experiment, the Journal called the daily issues “immensely popular.”

Though the papers “sold wildly,” it said, Dingley opted to return to weekly production until the Civil War spurred such a huge appetite for news that the paper went daily again, this time for the long run.

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