After weathering the transition of ownership of the local newspapers between News Media of Rochelle, Ill. to the new owners — Nicholas and Hayley Mattson — newspaper editor Brian Williams spent his final day with the Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press on Monday. Williams accepted the position of editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot and Del Norte Triplicate, owned by Country Media.
Williams and his wife of 20 years move this week to begin settling in Brookings, Ore., home of the Pilot.
“I enjoyed my time in the North County. I met a lot of incredible people and was able to tell their stories,” Williams said. “I immensely enjoyed working for the Mattsons. The two newspapers and monthlies and all the publications are in good hands.”
Williams spent the better part of five years with the local newspapers and adapted well to the community. Feedback at the newspapers from local figures typically came with high regards for his approach to local issues. It was Williams’ perspective and appreciation for the local importance of people and issues that shone through his writing.
“I appreciated being part of a community that felt like they enjoyed giving back to the community,” Williams said. “They welcomed me and made me feel like family. One of my favorite stories was talking to the rocket scientist and veteran Ed Montieth.”
Williams was an intregral part of the transition for the local newspapers with the Mattsons since the start of September.
“It is with best wishes and high regards that we bid our editor Brian Williams farewell,” publisher Nicholas Mattson said. “I worked alongside Brian for the better part of the last five years. Hayley [Mattson] and I truly enjoyed getting to know him better over the last four months as we worked to bring the newspapers into the fold.”
In the four months since the Mattson’s took over the newspapers, Williams played a leadership role in shaping the weekly content. He worked with our staff writers — Mark Diaz and Connor Allen — to craft each newspaper edition in the voice of the community.
“Working with Brian on the newspapers was an honor,” Hayley Mattson said. “The way he looked at the newspapers, knew the community, and put his heart and soul into making the ‘best damn newspaper’ every week was something we will miss without him on the team.”
Williams’ departure took with it the most senior member of the news team and left a significant gap in need of being filled in publishing The Atascadero News, Paso Robles Press, Paso Robles Magazine, Colony Magazine, Morro Bay Life, Avila Beach Life, Central Coast TRVLR+Vino™, and other local publishing projects.
“Brian brought a lot of wit and wisdom to our team, and we will miss him,” Mattson said. “We support his decision, and we certainly hope to work with him again someday, but it also allows us to shake up our current dynamic and make some long-term decisions.”
During his tenure with the Mattson’s, Williams worked alongside senior editor Luke Phillips, who will adjust to taking on more duties as the leader in the editorial office. Phillips has a long tenure with local publications as well, and spent the last six years working in local print. His role expands to encompass more of the editorial management for several publications.
To compensate for the loss of Williams’ talents and the shift of duties onto Phillips, the company hired Cal Poly graduate Michael Michaud as the lead layout designer for the newspapers, magazines, and special projects.
“Michael brings a great enthusiasm and fresh ideas to our staff,” Mattson said. “We look forward to Michael joining our team as we take on phase two of our local media plan to improve our content and our content delivery in print and digital sources. We will miss Brian greatly, but the change forces us to reassess our assets and redirect some of our efforts in a new way. Overall, it is exciting and we believe it is right for all concerned.”