The Beaufort Tribune is published occasionally to cover matters of important current interest to the residents of and visitors to the City of Beaufort, the Town of Port Royal, and northern Beaufort County.
The Beaufort Tribune was originally founded in 1874 by Winchell French, son of Mansfield French, who led the missionaries from New York, Philadelphia and Boston to Beaufort and the nearby Sea Islands during the Civil War to help the newly freed slaves. The newspaper closed several years later when Winchell French, initially a Republican, became disgusted with the corrupt local Reconstruction Republican political establishment and backed the Democrat Wade Hampton for governor of South Carolina. As a result he lost almost all of the advertising revenue from courthouse tax-sale advertisements, and went bankrupt.
Starting in the late 1990s George Graham Trask, who owns and resides in the house the French family purchased during the Civil War, began occasional publication of a printed reincarnation of the original Beaufort Tribune in order to publicize important local issues including Beaufort County’s proposed draconian zoning ordinance. In 2009 he established The Beaufort Tribune on the Internet as a daily commercial enterprise under the ownership of Hometown Local Media, Inc., when The Beaufort Gazette, owned by a California conglomerate, closed its editorial office in Beaufort. In September 2012 he ceased commercial operations due to a dramatic reduction in advertising revenue due to competition from the online giant, Google, but continued sporadic publication of important local news events, most notably an epidemic of local drug abuse and defeat of a proposal by the City of Beaufort to allow construction of commercial structures in the downtown waterfront park.
George Graham Trask, born 1940, is a Beaufort native who attended the public schools of Beaufort; Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, where he was editor of the student newspaper; Davidson College (BA in History and Economics), where he was president of the student body; the University of Vienna, Austria; Harvard Law School, earning a JD degree; and Harvard Business School. In the 1960s he served in the United States Army Intelligence Corps as a counterintelligence officer and on the staff of President Lyndon Johnsons’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Afterwards until the late 1970s he served in Atlanta as a corporate and tax lawyer in what are now two of the largest law firms in the United States: King & Spalding and Alston & Bird. In addition to The Beaufort Tribune his business endeavors have included seminars in Vienna, Austria, and owner/operator of numerous businesses in the Beaufort area including First Carolina Bank, of which he was president until its sale to South Carolina National Bank, at that time the largest bank in the state; Beaufort Broadcasting Company (WBEU and WBEU-FM); Best Western Sea Island Inn; Rose Supply Company; Coastal Villages Press; and Distant Island Company (The Village of Distant Island). His community services have included incorporation of Beaufort County Open Land Trust and membership on the boards of Penn Community Center (vice chairman), Historic Beaufort Foundation, and Beaufort-Jasper Water Authority.
During the time of its commercial operation as a daily online newspaper in the period 2009-2012, The Beaufort Tribune was the only locally owned daily newspaper serving the entirety of Beaufort County. Our content has always been entirely free to our readers. In 2012 our pages were read more than 7,000,000 times and had a readership of more than 50,000 separate individuals each month. (source: Google Analytics).
Staff during time of commercial online operations:
George Graham Trask
Susan Yoakum Woods
Janet Carr Hull
Robert H. Moore
Charles Webb III
In September 2012 we announced that we were taking a “vacation” from publishing The Beaufort Tribune as a daily commercial online local newspaper. The two reasons were (i) lack of sufficient advertising revenue and (ii) the almost total obsession of our readers on stories about local crime, which we described as “depressing and dispiriting”.
On April 23, 2020, we announced the resumption of publication “at my leisure and for my pleasure. This means publishing local news stories, commentary, and features that strike my fancy and that will, I hope, strike your fancy too. The Beaufort Tribune will be produced without urgency, deadlines, or advertising, a pleasurable caprice for you and me.”
George Graham Trask
Beaufort, South Carolina