'Martinez News-Gazette' Shutters After 161 Years

Martinez News-Gazette is the latest newspaper casualty.

The 161-year-old newspaper, one of the oldest in California, has ended its print run. The Dec. 29 edition was its last hurrah.

Owner Gibson Publishing is unsure whether the newspaper, which went from a five-day publishing schedule to twice weekly, covering a city of 40,000 east of San Francisco, will continue online.

Falling ad revenues have contributed to staff layoffs over the years.

The News-Gazette's first newspaper debuted in September 1858, which means it’s the oldest continuous publication in Contra Costa County.

Separately, California’s oldest weekly newspaper, The Mountain Messenger, begun in 1853, will end mid-January, according to Don Russell, the Messenger’s editor-publisher. The newspaper covers two rural counties northeast of Sacramento. Russell told the Los Angeles Times he could not find a buyer.

The Messenger’s claim to history: While on the run, Mark Twain wrote for it under his real name, Sam Clemens.



Edward Wasserman, dean of UC Berkeley’s journalism school, told the San Francisco Chronicle the Internet was no substitute for reading a daily paper: “There’s not really a replacement institution emerging,” Wasserman said of the News Gazette's closure. “It’s not the same thing as having a paper that chronicles a shared reality for a given community.”

According to the Pew Research Center, newspaper circulation in the United States has declined every year for three decades.

In October, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cut its print copies to Thursday, Friday and Sunday, going digital-only the rest of the week. John Robinson Block, editor-in-chief of the Post-Gazette, wrote in a post on the paper’s site: “We believe e-delivery of the news is faster and more user-friendly than print delivery and allows us to give the reader more news in more ways than ever before.”

McClatchy’s Miami Herald is stopping its Saturday print run in March. McClatchy announced it would also end the Saturday print editions of its Washington State papers: The News Tribune and The Olympian. The Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee will end print Saturday editions in January 2020.

The Youngstown Vindicator closed August 31 after a 150-year run.

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