About the Colony

Eulogy for another newspaper as Times Press-Recorder closes

I hate this column.

I hate it because it is about the loss of another community newspaper.

The Tribune carried a story a week ago that the weekly Times Press-Recorder would publish its final newspaper on Friday, May 27, bringing to an end 129 years of covering the southern portion of San Luis Obispo County.

The Times Press-Recorder, which was made up of a merger of even smaller newspapers years ago, was indeed a community newspaper that published the news of that part of the Central Coast. It didn’t carry much national news unless it could find a local connection.

This is the second time in about 20 years that I’ve written about the demise of a community newspaper.

I remember being saddened at the demise of the Gazettes, which published in Atascadero, Paso Robles and elsewhere.

Even though the owner of the newspaper had no idea what a newspaper was supposed to be, its editors and reporters did. They even drew national media attention when they protested the actions of then-publisher David Weyrich and walked off the job.

I think such newspapers are vital to a good community. They can cover the local government and schools and do features on individual community leaders that the larger newspapers cannot, and that television prefers not to do.

On a larger scale than a tiny newspaper published in our relatively small county, Thomas Jefferson believed that with no newspapers, democracy suffers.

Even the mighty Los Angeles Times is in financial trouble and was almost gobbled up by the owners of USA Today. The board did, however, reject Gannett’s offer — for now.

I’ve always loved newspapers.

Like many readers of a newspaper, I began as a child reading the comics. I remember in the 1950s that Fresno State drama students read the comics over the air. You’d be told where to begin, get your newspaper spread out before you on the floor and then read along. It was great.

I began to read other parts of the newspaper and eventually, went to work with my hometown newspaper, The Selma Enterprise, as summertime employment for two years while going to college.

I don’t know anyone at the Times Press-Recorder. At one time, the Blankenburgs, who owned the South County paper, and the Porters, who owned the Atascadero News longer than any other individual or corporation, were friends. We never competed, but we shared a love of community journalism.

I don’t think that is being practiced today.

Sure, you can get news 24 hours a day from broadcast and digital sources.

What you don’t get when a paper like The Times Press-Recorder ceases to print is a picture of your kid with his FFA hog that you can cut out and attach to the refrigerator.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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