Monday, November 19, 2012

Tale of Two Newspapers and Two Towns

Once a week, late on a Tuesday night, usually around midnight, I drive through the town of Marysville, California. I always stop at a gas station there where I stretch my legs (I have a three and a half hour drive home from work). I buy a mineral water, check my e-mail and pick up a copy of one of the most awful weekly newspapers you will ever read.

Marysville makes up half of the dual, twin cities of Marysville and Yuba City. An interesting place, there is a yearly gathering of Sikhs who descend on the cities once a year. This is the largest gathering of Sikhs in North America; thousands of turbaned, bearded men gather in this bastion of very conservative people. These towns are seated in a county that the Federal government must help oversee elections due to their past history of excluding Hispanics and other minorities. This area also has bequeathed to us perhaps the single most vile politician in all of California: Dan Logue.

There are two newspapers in this town. One, a weekly, The Territorial Dispatch, is a rag dedicated to informing us, and saving us from, the perils of Agenda 21. The Territorial Dispatch is a Tea Party Kook paper. Hardly worth mentioning. I read it for the entertainment value--plus it makes good fire starter in the wood stove.

The other daily newspaper ain't much better.

The Appeal Democrat has nothing appealing nor democratic about it. The editorial page is just as horrid as most of the Northern California papers. Maybe a little more Libertarian in focus. Of course, this is all compounded by the fact that the media group that owns the unappealing Appeal Democrat also owns the Orland Press Register, the Corning Observer, the Colusa Sun-Herald, and the Willows Journal. They have much of the media locked up in the Sacramento Valley. Yes, newspapers influence might be waning, but not when you are the only game in town. Or the region.

All of these newspapers are owned by Freedom Communications. Their newspapers are spread across California like chicken pox lesions. Given the name of the company, you certainly can figure out the editorial slant. The flagship newspaper of the Freedom group is the very conservative Orange County Register.  The company was founded by a gentleman by the name of R. C. Hoiles. Hoiles was a man who campaigned against Communists and socialist public education. Of Hoiles, who died in 1970, the company's website states:

"Our company founder, R.C. Hoiles, left a legacy based on the principles of voluntaryism (sic) and the libertarian philosophy. Those legacy values — Integrity, Self-Responsibility, Respect for Individual Freedom, Community and Life-Long Learning — are the bedrock on which Freedom Communications operates today. We call it the Freedom Way."

The Freedom Group hasn't escaped the problems newspapers are facing in a digital age. They emerged from Bankruptcy in 2012 and currently have been purchased in July of 2012 by a new group that cast off some of their East Coast holdings. They remain one of the most influential conservative voices in California though.

So you get the picture. In Marysville you have the unfortunate choice of a weekly newspaper that is saturated with the most bizarre, paranoid, Agenda 21 hating, climate change denying, kookiness or you can read the Libertarian, government hating, climate change denying,  Appeal Democrat. Not very appealing or democratic.

As we move along through time, I shall explore some of the more bizarre beliefs and behaviors of both these newspapers.

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