Northwestern California Newspapers
The Eureka Region
A brief newspaper-focused history of Eureka
Eureka's longest running current newspaper, the Times-Standard, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004. Although the current title dates from 1967 when the Humboldt Standard and the Humboldt Times merged, they trace their lineage to the Humboldt Times which began publication as the first newspaper in Humboldt County on September 2, 1854. Prior to the 1967 merger there were many variations on these titles, usually involving "Daily" or "Weekly" or "Evening" or even "Semi-Weekly" in the masthead and including a series of Telephones. The early history is ably described in Elliott's 1882 History of Humboldt County as well as the 1890-91 History and Business Directory of Humboldt County, Andrew Genzoli's "County Press Has Vivid History" in the Humboldt Standard in 1934, and Will Speegle's "Dailies and Weeklies" in the Humboldt Times.
A separate page "sets the scene" for looking at these early newspapers in context.
The second half of the 1860s saw several other newspaper attempts: Humboldt (Bay) Journal (1865-1867), National Index (1867-1868), Humboldt Bay Democrat (1868), Northern Independent (1869-1872) and finally the West Coast Signal which began in 1871 and lasted until 1880 under David E. Gordon, a veteran of many newspapers.
In the 1870s the telegraph allowed breaking news to travel faster and gave rise to wire services. This resulted in more pages per issue, increased circulation, and led to larger staffs and the development of daily newspapers. It was a new era for newspapers — an era that arrived in Humboldt County in November 1873.
New titles — some dailies, some weeklies — included Evening Star (1876-1878), Evening Herald (1879), Eureka News/News/Semi-Weekly News (1881) and finally Western Watchman (1884-1898) and Humboldt Mail (1887-1890). The Daily Evening Signal, Gordon's daily component of his West Coast Signal, existed from perhaps 1876 until both suspended in 1880. Editors and publishers moved frequently in this era and much can be learned about the newspapers by following the careers of these often colorful individuals.
A 1972 article by Mac McClary, Humboldt State journalism professor, enlightens us about some wondrously titled newspapers that came to life in Eureka in the last decades of the 19th century and which exist primarily in a single reel of microfilm at the Humboldt State Library. Included are: Humboldt Rescue (1884), Tea Plant (1884), Academy Record (1887), Nerve (1892-1895), Double Standard (1896), Progress (1897-1898), and Redwood Christian Weekly (1901-1902). A few might not truly fit the present day definition of newspaper. Some additional titles from this period are: Daily Populist (1894), Western Dynameter (may have existed in 1894), Sunday Letter and Society Record (1895), Citizen (1895-1896), Eureka News (1895-1896). A longer lived title, the Californian began in 1897 or 1898 and continued at least into 1911.
Just after the turn of the century we find the Evening Herald beginning publication in 1902, known only through February 17, 1903, but appearing to be followed by the Eureka Herald, known from January 3, 1905 as volume 3 number 83 and continuing until the end of 1913 when it was absorbed by the Humboldt Standard. Speegle describes this competition from his perspective as the owner of the Standard who purchased the Herald.
A Swedish language newspaper, the Vestern, was published in 1907, but for how long we do not know. The Humboldt Progressive appeared in 1914, Plain Talk in 1926 and Humboldt Publicity in 1933. And the Eureka Independent was published from 1951-1958.
Although published in Eureka, a series of labor newspapers covers the broader geographical area. Labor News, "the official organ of Eureka Federated Trade and Labor Council and affiliated unions of Humboldt County and other similar organizations," began publication in 1905, changing its name to Humboldt News in 1925, and continuing through 1927. The Redwood Empire Labor Journal was published from 1940-1977 and the Rank & File Reporter from 1970-1980.
Another category of newspapers, again with a broader appeal, began during this period. Weekend Fishing and Hunting News is recorded in 1958, the first of a number of papers related to the outdoors and sports and recreation. Although newspapers of this type are not well preserved, it is an important area of journalism in Northwestern California with these papers occasionally becoming involved in major political issues of the time. An example is Northcoast Outdoors (1966-1969) that included lengthy pieces on Butler Valley Dam and the Tri-Lakes Proposal. North Coast Sporting News is preserved from 1973-1976 and North Coast Sport Fishing News began in 1994 with Jim Childs as editor. This publication continues to be published although with various title changes. Other titles exist but have not been well recorded or preserved.
This period ended with the emergence of the Times-Standard as the only daily newspaper of Humboldt County. Significantly, the new paper passed out of local, family ownership into a newspaper chain, Thomson Newspapers, who held it until 1996 when it was bought by MediaNews Corp.
Titles published in Eureka more than ever during this period appealed to a county-wide audience, usually reflecting this geographic emphasis in their names. So we get Northcoast Ripsaw, "a maverick voice in the northcoast country," appearing in 1969-1970, Humboldt Journal in 1978, and Humboldt Life & Times from 1976-1980. Northcoast View was published from 1982-1989 and This Week News & Review in 1988. An ambitious effort, The News was published by Humboldt County News Service in 1995-1996. In the form of a question and answer, in the first issue on October 6, 1995, the editor provides insight on another aspect of newspaper publishing, the actual printing of newspapers. For a history of the two major printing companies in the area, see the article by Charles Strope (1997) on Times Printing Company and W. H. Jewett (1965) on Eureka Printing Co.
In 1981 a newspaper especially for those over 55, Senior News, appeared and its constituency's voice has proven strong enough to maintain the paper actively to the present. In 1991 the name was shortened to Sr. News.
Although not strictly a newspaper, the Tri-City has long been a mainstay of local advertising publishing with a print run outstripping most traditional newspapers. It began publication in 1971 as a business project of the Gospel Outreach Christian Center at Lighthouse Ranch. In 1977 it was sold to a local corporation and finally was purchased by the Times-Standard's publisher, MediaNews, in early 2003.
Along with the Times-Standard and Senior News, there are currently two other newspapers being published in Eureka. El Heraldo is a monthly Spanish language newspaper which began in 1998. The only previous coverage of Spanish language may have been the Spanish page in The News, 1995-1996. The Eureka Reporter was first established in 2003 as an online newspaper but soon decided (January 29, 2004) to add a weekly print edition. The paper ceased operations in November 2008.
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The Northwestern California Newspaper Project is managed by the Humboldt Room located in the Humboldt State University Library