COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | JOHN PATRICK FORD

Another end for local publishers

There have been several testimonials already printed about the end of the print edition of The Daily Transcript under the direction of Publisher Bob Loomis and the Revelle family.

I want to add one more reflecting my remorse over losing a valuable community asset and the many outstanding relationships I have had with the several editors and other staff during my 23-year association as a freelance columnist.

I am particularly nostalgic about knowing each of the prior owners of the press, even though I am not 129 years old, dating back to the founding of the paper. Frank Grandier bought the National City Record in 1895, changing it to The Daily Transcript and moving to San Diego. His family continued as publishers until the paper was sold in 1972.

My connection with the original owner was his daughter Aline G. Hornaday, a personal friend for many years and sometimes business contact when I was practicing public accountancy. The paper was sold to Keith Lister, who was also a personal friend for many years. His daughter, Priscilla Lister, was the city editor in 1992 when I submitted my first commentary.

I worked with Priscilla and the succession of managing editors, Martin Krumming, Andrew Kleske, Reo Carr and Joe Guerin for the next several years. The Listers sold the press to the Revelle-Scripps family in 1986. Again I was fortunate to have a personal link with the publisher through Ellen Revelle because of our mutual interest in the UCSD Geisel Library.

I always enjoyed Ellen’s comments about my columns. She would have been a great copy editor, pointing out to me some grammatical slips. At least that assured me that the publisher was actually reading my material!

After these many years of personal contact with the publishers of this press, I regret to see another press lose its hometown affiliation. Just three months ago, I wrote a commentary about the loss of other family-owned newspapers in Southern California referring to the Union-Tribune being acquired by the Los Angeles Times, also a former family-owned newspaper acquired by the Chicago Tribune.

The Times was founded in 1881 and remained under three generations of the Chandler family while the Union-Tribune became a Copley family enterprise in 1928, also lasting three generations.

Now San Diego will not have a local family-owned daily newspaper reflecting personal commitment to local politics and economics as well as feature stories by local journalists.

This seems to be happening worldwide as London’s Financial Times recently sold to a Japanese conglomerate. This transfer of ownership was not a direct concern of mine because I’m not a subscriber to the Times, but my dependable international news publication, The Economist is owned by the Times.

This is only the second time that the weekly news magazine has changed ownership in its 172 years of publication. A letter from the editor explains that editorial independence is absolute and is fiercely guarded by four independent trustees.

The liberal credo of open markets and individual freedom has been the policy with no masthead listing of staff, no bylines for journalists, and no letters from the editor.

I am concerned that this traditional style of journalism may be changed under new management. I’m even more concerned that San Diego will lose another daily publication that focused on community affairs, local business and the main source of reporting for legal and real estate reporting.

As a journalist who learned his trade 70 years ago in a high school newspaper, I regret that the print media seems to be a dinosaur of news reporting. I am not at all happy about the television coverage of news, which focuses on the sensational and gives little time or depth to local issues, just sound bites.

So this column is my last for publication in print at The Daily Transcript. There may be other potential resources to keep writing commentaries, but I will miss reading it in the traditional column form, familiar for so many years.


Ford is a freelance writer in San Diego. He can be reached at johnpatrick.ford@sddt.com.

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5 UserComments
T. Chapman 12:00am September 7, 2015

Always well done. This one is especially so!

Emilie Winthrop 12:00am September 5, 2015

I, too, regret the loss of yet another victim to this "rapid information via electronics" generation. Here's hoping you soon find another place to print your insightful columns. I so enjoy reading them. From one fellow writer to another, I think writing keeps us young, so keep on. Emilie P.S. Is the Ellen Revelle you refer to, Mary Ellen Revelle, daughter of Dr. Roger Revelle and Ellen Scripps? I went to the Balmer School in La Jolla with her sister Anne. and Mary Ellen was a year or two younger. We had great times all playing together in the Barber tract before my family returned to Denver after WW2 began. They were a lovely family and I had a great crush (age 9) on their cousin, Teddy, who also attended the school.

Daryl Ferguson 12:00am September 2, 2015

I'll miss your column, too, Pat.

Gilda Cruz-Romo Robert B. Romo 12:00am September 1, 2015

Love your wonderful publication, sorry it will be the last, but we hope and pray you will continue doing the job and hope it will be for long time. With warmest wishes and all good things Bob & Gilda

William Lanouette 12:00am August 31, 2015

Well said, Pat! Print slows us down and lets us think, even reflect, on the well-chosen words on the page. We mourn your loss, which is our city's too. Bill Lanouette