|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 02 February 2011 00:00|
Thirty years ago this week, a new newspaper went to press dedicated to providing the residents of Camp Verde and the surrounding area with the most reliable and accurate source of local news available.
It was Feb. 4, 1981, when the community was introduced to the first issue of The Journal, a labor of love assembled by editors and publishers Jerry Newton and Dimas Vaquez, two people who felt the lower Verde Valley lacked a relevant newspaper and a clear voice of its own.
A lot has changed in those three decades since, but the core mission of what is today’s The Camp Verde Journal has remained rock solid.
When the first issue of the paper hit the stands, it promised to remain dedicated to local news only, since there were plenty of other outlets for national and state news. Still, the paper promised to report on how that national and state news would affect life in Camp Verde.
That first issue cost a quarter. While today’s Journal costs 50 cents, that rate of inflation isn’t so bad. According to a double-page advertising spread in that first issue, the local Fairway Foods was charging 19 cents for a head of lettuce, $1.99 a pound for ranch steak and $2.49 for a pound of coffee.
Newton and Vaquez worked hard to create a product the community could take ownership in and feel proud of; when they decided to sell the paper in 1985, the new owners picked up that torch.
The paper was bought by L&L Printing in early 1985, the corporate face of the Larson family that had put out the Sedona Red Rock News for decades. The first issue under new ownership hit the stands April 3, 1985.
The Journal has always striven to keep local residents apprised of the news that matters to them.
When the very first paper went to press in 1981, the town hadn’t incorporated yet. When the town did incorporate in late 1986, The Journal was there to cover all sides of the issue and keep the community informed.
A lot has happened since those days besides the major change of incorporation. The Yavapai-Apache Nation created a casino to change the future of its people. Businesses have come and gone, and the number of rooftops in this town exploded. The town now faces an uncertain economy, and even the historic fort in the center has been faced with shutdown. Still, the rural Western character of the town has persisted, even as the population has grown by leaps and bounds since 1981.
Back in the 1980s, the response to a paper with such a local focus was so positive that a few years later, the Larsons started the Cottonwood Journal Extra to provide that area with the voice Camp Verde already enjoyed.
The paper has moved around quite a bit. Originally serving the community from the Gunnell Building at First and Main streets, the paper later moved to Main and Turner streets before setting up shop in the now empty Rio Verde Plaza. In December 2000, The Journal moved into its current location at 406 First St.
In a place of its own, The Camp Verde Journal continues to bring the stories that matter to the readers. After all, the paper is the voice of the community, and it depends on the residents to keep it going strong.
“I would like to personally thank all the advertisers and readers of The Camp Verde Journal over the past 30 years for their tremendous support of our newspaper,” Publisher Robert B. Larson said. Larson said owning The Camp Verde Journal, Cottonwood Journal Extra and the Sedona Red Rock News allowed Larson Newspapers to provide a more comprehensive look at the dissemination of news that affects all the residents of Sedona and the Verde Valley.
“We are very proud of our products and hope that we have served all the needs of our advertisers and readers,” Larson said. “We will continue to provide the Camp Verde area with the most truthful and relevant news that we feel the area deserves from its local newspaper.”
Trista Steers is the managing editor of Larson Newspapers’ publications, including The Camp Verde Journal. While Steers has been at the helm for only a portion of the paper’s history, she shares the same determination to provide the community with the best newspaper possible.
“From an editorial standpoint, The Camp Verde Journal has taken the lead in the community as the source of reliable news as a true community newspaper,” Steers said. “We have been and will continue to be dedicated to bringing our readers accurate information about city issues and feel-good stories about their neighbors.”
With that said, it’s important to remember this newspaper needs the community if it hopes to last another 30 years.
In the first issue, Jerry Newton made a promise.
“The Journal does pledge to do its best to serve the communities as accurately and professionally as possible,” Newton wrote. “Please don’t forget that we need your help — we will remember that you need ours.”
That’s as true today as it was 30 years ago; without the community, The Journal can’t exist. If anyone in this community has a news item or an item of interest for the paper, never forget that the doors at The Camp Verde Journal are always open.
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