17 July, 2006

How Old is the Santa Barbara News-Press?

Like many in the Santa Barbara area, I've gotten interested by the ongoing drama at our local daily, the News-Press. One thing I got obsessed with... how old is the News-Press? The newspaper takes great pride in declaring itself oldest in Southern California, and `since 1855'. Is it true? Not that I have been able to verify.

What I can verify: the earliest predecessor of the News-Press was the Santa Barbara Post, which commenced publishing on May 30, 1868 (the original Memorial Day, see the posting below). The Post published until June 10, 1869, then became the Santa Barbara Weekly Press starting June 24, 1869. The same business started publishing a daily edition, the Daily Press, on Sep. 9, 1872, which eventually evolved into The Morning Press. Oddly enough, the Morning Press did not quote its start date as 1868, but instead quoted a start date of 1863, which I cannot verify.

The Morning Press was acquired by Tom Storke (who was running the Daily News, founded later than the Post) in September of 1932. At least one edition of the Morning Press - June 1, 1935 - says the paper was founded in 1869. But the volume numbering corresponds to the 1863 founding. Storke re-christened the combined operation the News-Press, starting in 1938, and adopted the 1863 founding date.

Then on March 30, 1952, the News-Press, on occasion of a golden celebration of Tom Storke and the dedication of its new building, changed its date of origin from 1863 to 1855, just saying they carried on the tradition of the Santa Barbara Gazette, which did start publishing in 1855. There is no thread of business continuity between the Gazette and the News-Press.

The verifiable birthdate of the News-Press of May 30, 1868 would make the News-Press younger than the Bakersfield Californian, which dates from Aug. 18, 1866. The San Diego Union-Tribune dates from Oct. 10, 1868. Both those papers give pretty clear histories on their websites, unlike the News-Press... I have not scrutinized the self-asserted histories of the Californian and Union-Tribune.

The archive of the News-Press might have new info that would support a claim of 1855 or 1863, however. It would be very nice for the News-Press to clarify the situation for once and for all.

I note that the New York Times claimed today (July 17, 2006) that the News-Press was 105 years old... this date comes from Barney Brantingham, and corresponds to the date of Tom Storke's first acquisition of a newspaper, the (then) Santa Barbara Independent, in late 1900. But that Independent was sold by Storke in 1909 or 1910. Then he left the local news business and moved to the Bakersfield oil fields, and did not return until 1913, when he purchased the Santa Barbara Daily News. A few months later in 1913, he purchased that Independent back.


Blogger Frenchcori said...

This whole thing should be a movie!!! But which: comedy, drama, horror?

17/7/06 2:22 PM  

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