‘Mini Page’ Founder Betty Debnam Steps Down As Editor After Nearly 40 Years

By: E&P Staff

After nearly 40 years, Betty Debnam is stepping aside as editor and publisher of “The Mini Page” children’s newspaper.

Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes “The Mini Page” to about 500 papers, said Debnam’s official title will now be founding editor and editor-at-large. She’ll also devote more time to writing children’s books, painting, researching trends in education, and developing the Debnam-Hunt Literacy Resource Center at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.

Debnam — whose father, grandmother, and grandfather were all newspaper editors — began editing “The Mini Page in 1969, and also wrote and illustrated the feature for many of its early years. Her first newspaper client was The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

“I owe a lot of credit for the success of the feature to The News & Observer and to Dave Jones, who at that time was the advertising manager and who later became associate publisher,” said Debnam, who has also been an elementary-school teacher, and who holds a master’s degree in education from Duke University.

Universal — which has syndicated “The Mini Page” since 1976 — purchased the feature last May. The current staff includes Lisa Tarry (managing editor) and Lucy Lien, Wendy Daley, and Alan McDermott. The latter two have worked in some capacity with “The Mini Page” for about 25 years.

John McMeel — president of Andrews McMeel Universal, the parent company of Universal — said Debnam’s “vision, insight, and sensibilities are still embraced by teachers and parents who want to instill an appreciation and a love of newspapers for generations to come.?

Debnam has won numerous honors for her “Mini Page” work. For instance, she received the Newspaper Association of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a member of the Newspaper in Education Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame.

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