Northwestern California Newspapers
The Greater Arcata Region
A brief newspaper-focused history
Although the first newspaper in Humboldt County, the Humboldt Times, was established in Eureka in 1854, it was moved to Union (Arcata) and published there from 1855 until it returned to Eureka in 1858. A rival paper, the Northern Californian, was then established in Union where it lasted for eighteen months before merging with the Times back in Eureka in 1860. Mike Kennedy, writing in 1972, sets this rivalry within the context of newspapers of the mid-1800s as he covers Bret Harte's condemnation of the Indian Island massacre: the full text of Harte's article and editorial on February 29, 1860 (page 2) is linked on the Northern Californian page.
Two other newspapers, the Casket (1860) and the Arcata Leader (1879-1880), existed briefly in Arcata before the two major papers of the region were founded, the Arcata Union in 1886 and the Northern Advocate which began in 1888 and changed its name the following year to Blue Lake Advocate. The Blue Lake Advocate ceased in 1969 and the Union continued until 1995 when it was terminated. Both papers featured regular coverage of outlying areas, with the Union stronger to the north including McKinleyville, Trinidad and Orick and the Blue Lake Advocate covering the Willow Creek, Hoopa and Orleans area especially well.
The Blue Lake Advocate was especially strong in its historical writing. Susie Baker Fountain contributed meticulously researched articles from 1954-1964. Her papers are at the HSU Library and the Susie Baker Fountain Papers web page provides information on this remarkable woman and her legacy.
Blue Lake produced a second Northern Advocate in 1978-1979. Over in Arcata, the Northcountry Constitution published from 1975-1976 when it was replaced by the Northcountry Life & Times. This one both changed its name — to the Life and Times — and moved to Eureka where it ceased in 1977.
Back in Arcata, the Boldt issued its first number in June 1979, featuring an article on the retirement of newspaperman Andrew Genzoli from the Times-Standard: see the Genzoli Collection page for more on this important figure in Northwestern California newspaper history. The Boldt continued at least through July/August 1980, demonstrating its concern for the broader Northwestern California area with its masthead first reading "Added Insight Into The Redwood Empire" and later "Humboldt's News-magazine." Another broadly directed newspaper published in Arcata in 1991 was North Star News - or N*N - who knew it was a "big order to fill the void of Country Activist" which ceased publishing in Southern Humboldt in 1990.
By stretching the definition of "newspaper" we can include the student newspaper from Humboldt State in Arcata. It began as Foghorn for the 1924-25 school year. The HSTC (Humboldt State Teachers College) Rooter followed this in 1929. The name was changed to Humboldt Lumberjack in 1930 then shortened to its current title, Lumberjack, in 1951. In 2013, students in the Journalism & Mass Communication program started El Leñador. A bilingual newspaper, El Leñador serves the Latino community on campus and across Humboldt County.
We can also include another currently published paper, Econews, which began in 1971. Econews is the longest running of a healthy group of environmental/conservation news magazines published in Northwestern California, primarily since the 1980s.
To the north, Trinidad was home to the Trinidad News and Views from 1982-1985, followed by the Trinidad Dispatch in 1985 and Shorelines in 1993. Articles from Trinidad News and Views continue to be republished in the newsletter of the Trinidad Museum Society.
One McKinleyville News was published in 1962 and a second McKinleyville News began in 1966. It lasted until 1970 and was followed by the McKinleyville Journal from 1971 into 1972. The McKinleyville Express lived briefly in 1985 as did the Express Dispatch in 1986. Two more short-lived papers were the Mad River Herald in 1990 and the McKinleyville Weekly in 1994.
In 1996, perhaps partly in response to the termination of the Union and partly as a new thrust in journalism, two weekly papers were established and in 1998 a third went from monthly to weekly publication. The North Coast Journal (1990 monthly, 1998 weekly) continues to the present. It originated in Arcata but now operates out of Eureka. The North Coast Journal takes in the whole of Northwestern California and is the only newspaper in the broader area to make its full archive available and searchable on its website. The McKinleyville Press (1996) provided coverage of Trinidad, Westhaven and Orick to the north while the Arcata Eye (1996), covered Blue Lake. In 2013, the two papers merged to form the Mad River Union.
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The Northwestern California Newspaper Project is managed by the Humboldt Room located in the Humboldt State University Library