Veteran returns’ returns’ home” to lead editorial department
In September 2019, the Paso Robles Press and Atascadero News were acquired by local owners Nicholas and Hayley Mattson under the 13 Stars Media umbrella with Paso Robles Magazine and Colony Magazine.
During the merger, current editor Brian Williams joined the new team. He assisted in bringing the weekly newspapers into the fold and spent three months working with the Mattson’s to improve the quality of the historic newspapers.
During that time, Williams was recruited to a position in Brookings, Ore., where he managed two newspapers — the Curry Pilot in Brookings and the Del Norte Triplicate in Crescent City, Cal.
“We didn’t want Brian to go, and we did all we could to entice him and his wife to stay in the area,” Hayley Mattson said. “During a dinner, we agreed in some form that we would relook at things in six months, not knowing then that coronavirus had other plans for all of us.”
In less than three months, COVID-19 changed the entire U.S. economy, and out of those changes came opportunity. 13 Stars Media was looking for a managing editor and reached out to Williams to see how things were going in Brookings.
“We left the door wide open when Brian left, and it just happened that we had an opportunity for his skills and leadership here,” Nic Mattson said. “It just worked out the way it was supposed to. We parted ways in January on good faith, and that was a strong bridge in making his return feel like the right thing at the right time.”
In a turbulent world of print and digital media where transience dominates across the country, 13 Stars Media pursued stable leadership for the company and a longterm home for Williams and his wife. A five-year minimum commitment on both sides was made before Williams agreed to move from Oregon back to the Paso Robles area.
“Ultimately, it was the people that brought me back and everything they do,” Williams said. “The opportunity to team up with a group of people that when faced with a pandemic continued to push forward and make the community better.”
Williams’ skill set and familiarity with the local area made for turnkey adaption of his new role as managing editor of the several print and digital products published by 13 Stars Media.
Along with Williams’ position, 13 Stars Media also created a News Correspondent position that former sports writer Connor Allen transitioned to as the company moves through the economic challenges created by the COVID-19 response.
“The challenges facing small media companies, especially those that continue to endeavor print, are no secret,” Nic Mattson said. “The 2020 pandemic posed a national crisis, and we were not immune. Our ability to pivot and come out even stronger than before has been a testament to a great business community and support. Now, with strong leadership in our editorial department with Brian, we are ready to do some great things as a company while still being prepared to face what could be a challenging finish to 2020.”
For the Mattson’s and 13 Stars Media, Williams fit the bill for what the company was looking for facing an uncertain future where the best way to predict it would be to create it.
“My goal is to publish the best darn newspaper around and be the best darn media company,” Williams said. “We are a small staff, but we are mighty. We record the community’s history by telling its story through words and photos. But we are so much more than just a newspaper, and we improve by living that day in and day out.”