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`End of Story' says it all for the Banner

The last edition in the 122-year history of the Nashville Banner was published today and carried the headline "End of Story."

Editorial staffers spent the morning cleaning out desks and milling about the newsroom, which was subdued. Rep. Bob Clement stopped by to bid farewell."My daddy wouldn't have been governor without the Banner," said Clement, whose father, Frank Clement, was governor from 1953 to 1959 and 1963 to 1967.

"It's like losing a family," said editorial clerk Albert Davis, who has been at the paper 33 years and will move to the newsroom at The Tennessean, Nashville's morning newspaper.

The final Banner was 82 pages, 20 to 30 pages more than normal, and about 25,000 extra copies were printed.

Publisher Irby C. Simpkins Jr. announced Monday that the afternoon daily would close. The Banner has a circulation of 39,838, down from about 63,000 a decade ago.

The 1997 edition of Editor & Publisher Year Book said 15 of the 19 U.S. dailies that closed in 1996 were afternoon papers.

In Tennessee, two metropolitan afternoon papers have closed in 15 years. The Memphis Press-Scimitar ceased publication in 1983 and the Knoxville Journal closed in 1991. The Chattanooga Free Press continues publishing with a daily circulation of 50,000 and Sunday circulation of 119,000.

The Banner, with 94 editorial staffers, shared a downtown Nashville building with The Tennessean. The two papers existed under a joint operating agreement.