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Small Town Newspapers

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Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020 2:49 pm

This is in praise of small town newspapers, especially ours.

They are disappearing all over the country. The New York Times did a full-page study of how local readers react when their long-accustomed community papers fold. They feel awful. And abandoned. And helpless.

Throughout my youth (we are talking 1930s and 40s) my parents had the original Coronado Journal mailed to us by subscription where ever our Navy station happened to be. In those days the old C J was full of social information. Parties and special events. No kidding, I have a clipping in an old scrapbook that starts, “Captain and Mrs. Charles Yanquell welcomed their daughter Julia home from UCLA for the weekend. She is a junior, a member of Tri Delta sorority, blah blah blah.” Not exactly stop-the-presses stuff.

A more poignant Journal clipping framed in my house now, with an enlarged photo of me with Joanne Cross (Wisener) and Molly MacGowan (THE Molly) shows three 14 year old girls together in frilly dresses announcing that we were hosting a formal dance at the North Island Officers Club on Saturday, Dec. 13, 1941. Also a typical writeup, however, the party never happened because Pearl Harbor was attacked the Sunday before. (And yes, that is the Molly who died young and is memorialized annually with the Coronado High School Outstanding Girl Graduate award.)

Back in the day the photographs for publication were done in studio, the Journal was full-size, and the San Diego papers were delivered by boys on bikes every morning and evening. The dailies, the radio, plus weekly news magazines like “Life” and “Look” were our communication lines in the middle of a world war when the fathers of so many Coronado children were away in the battle zones. No cell phones. No TVs. Very little timely information even on the 6 o’clock radio news.

Now that world-wide connection sources obviously are very different, and we are in the midst of a nasty U.S. political conflict, the contemporary Eagle & Journal is no less vital to Coronado.

I assume that because it is a weekly, supported by local advertising, our Eagle & Journal has a business model that is doing well. The little paper is certainly doing good, with all the announcements of happenings, issues, obituaries, and interesting news. Several times during the year the High School paper is included, which is wonderful for the students as well as the residents.

I am guessing the Eagle & Journal is secure because it is delivered weekly to every Coronado address, no charge. No need to bank on subscribers. We all pick it up at our front doors, maybe turn quickly to obits and opinion pieces, and set it aside for more careful reading and checking personal calendars. I suggest the best way we can provide steady community support is by patronizing the advertisers as often and as steadily as possible.

(And no, the editors didn’t put me up to this, the sad New York Times small town survey did.)

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