Newspapers Consolidate, Grub For Remaining Revenue – December 12, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

FORTUNA – Even though I was a round peg in a square hole at the Humboldt Beacon, working in a busy, well-staffed and equipped newspaper office with enthusiastic colleagues is something I’ll always remember.

Former reporter Wendy Butler remembered that era – where else? – on McKinleyville Press Editor Jack Durham’s Facebook page: “I starting stringing and then in ’97 became full-time. It was EXCITING. It was GREAT… for a little while… That little space on Main Street where we’d be on deadline, six or seven of us – newspaper people.”

Like the rest of the newspaper kingdom, though, the Beacon’s operation has dwindled since the mid-1990s to the barest minimum required to put out a newspaper. Last week, the last man standing Editor Franklin Stover, was toiling on the 110-year-old paper’s final edition.

“I’m incredibly busy with the last issue, being the only person putting it together,” he said. “It appears that the T-S is ailing and wants (or needs) the ad revenue that the HB was generating. We carry obits, legals and ads, so they’ll soon be all theirs.”

He said the Beacon’s new owners had done nothing to address the problem of the paper’s aging readership, averaging 65 years old.

Stover hasn’t been offered a job at the Times-Standard, so the Beacon won’t even have the illusory semblance of continuity the Arcata Union was briefly granted.

Former Union staffer Grace Kerr wondered about the destiny of the papers’ physical legacy: “Where are all the physical paper archives? All our giant books of old Arcata Unions? And now, where will the Beacon’s archives go? Do people care anymore about the actual paper newspapers?”

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