For the past seven years, I’ve spent life in the trenches of local journalism and my wife has run a 10-office medical service. We have a family motto — “I am so much, you are so much, and together, we are so much more.” We feel that way about each other, our kids, but also our team and our community. Adopting the local newspapers into our family also brought the need to expand our team. Interesting to note, we didn’t purchase the company that owned the newspapers. We did purchase the publishing rights and property, including the subsidiary publications, websites, and the historic hardbound archives of the Atascadero News that the Atascadero Historical Society graciously stewarded for several months, and we are working to get them back where they belong.
Three days after the purchase, we were introduced as the new owners and the former publisher let the entire staff go; we were given a short opportunity to assess the team and offer positions to those who could fit our new publishing model.
Unfortunately, the company had been losing money in the newspapers for many years. This is a tough business and being local is a key factor in success. With our faith in our communities, we took on a big challenge of restoring faith in local publishing, and being a part of what is next for local news publishing in the 21st century.
We were fortunate to have a fantastic team behind us already driving the magazines, and have been afforded the opportunity to provide full time work to three of our team members. We were exceptionally excited to expand Carmen Kessler and Dana McGraw into full time ad consultants, and Mark Diaz as our full time senior writer. All three had spent a great deal of effort in helping our magazines become better every month and their dedication and commitment paid off when we were provided this opportunity.
We already had former Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press editor Luke Phillips on as our magazine editor and he expressed his excitement about the opportunity to get back into the newspaper business, where he started his career.
We needed a sports writer and were glad to hear Connor Allen’s passion for his community and opportunity to continue giving local student-athletes and kids the spotlight and connection to their community. We are proud to come to an agreement with Connor to continue his work covering our community sports and more.
Our next decision had major implications for the direction of our company. We had two strong candidates to manage a large workload of marketing, design and editing. One choice would make our marketing and design hand stronger, and the other would make our editorial team stronger. After debate, we decided our best position would be to offer Brian Williams newspaper editor of both Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press and improve our news-based signature. We were very pleased at his acceptance. We know that with our team around him, we will have a much-improved local newspaper with focus and responsibility on what matters to us as local residents.
Along with new full time employees, we retain the best network of freelance contributors we don’t have room to even begin to mention.
As of this writing, it has been less than two weeks since we were introduced as the new owners of The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press.
Unfortunately, we had no capacity to rehire all the previous employees of News Media Corp. We didn’t let anyone go, and are grateful to those who assisted the last couple weeks to help us get through an abrupt transition. We now prepare to continue the great heritage of The Atascadero News and The Paso Robles Press.
You might notice the immediate change in the newspapers. Our mastheads are a throwback to a simpler time, but we live in a present that has never seen so much opportunity. We will publish through 2019 with our retro mastheads — which go back 50-100 years in time when The Atascadero News and The Paso Robles Press touted the Old English typeset in their titles. We will also include “The” in the masthead to strike a chord with our community because we are not “some” news or “some” press. We are The Atascadero News and The Paso Robles Press — the ones and only.
We’ve made decisions about our right to publish with the power of free enterprise and local economy behind us. We don’t just want to be the best newspapers on the Central Coast, we want every visitor to our communities to see our city emblazoned with pride across the masthead of a newspaper filled with good, real, hometown news.
We take our opportunity and responsibility to serve a free society with a free press with all the respect deserving of our first amendment rights
Our respect for the truth is equal to our respect for our community. We will apply our dedication to delivery of “Good News, Real News, Your Hometown News,” because we know what a great community has to offer. Together, we “do something worth writing,” in multiple languages, and we will continue to “write something worth reading.”
Please support your local free press by choosing us for your local advertising.
Nicholas and Hayley Mattson,
and the Colony Media family.