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Big Year, Big News 

Twenty-ten is a very big year for us. It's the Journal's 20th anniversary.

How humble are our beginnings? Two SE 30 Macs in one room in Old Town, Eureka. There were three of us then: I was in charge of editorial, Carolyn Fernandez and Rose Welsh were the production team. We didn't have a copier. We had to run down three flights of stairs and across the street to enlarge some artwork for an ad. We had to get in the car and drive to Photoworld to get a batch of screened prints to paste up. If the prints didn't fit, we had to resize and reorder -- two more trips. Good thing we were a monthly news magazine of politics, people and art. It took us an entire month to give birth.

That was 1990. A year later we split the company. Rose retained the clients from Adworks, an ad agency she had founded. Carolyn and I, printer's ink in our blood, continued on.

In 1998 we finally figured out the monthly Journal would likely never be a financial success -- meaning, a newspaper that provided adequate wages and health insurance for our handful of employees. Somehow, about the same time, we discovered a network of newsweeklies across the country that were making it -- and making a huge, positive impact on their communities by providing some competition to their local dailies. A light bulb went off. We copied them. And here we are today, averaging 48 pages per week, out-circulating the daily (at least every Thursday), 18 employees strong, looking forward to 2010.

And our big news?

About five years ago, Carolyn and I began to craft a succession plan for the newspaper. What would the ownership look like when we are no longer actively working? Who will be at the helm for the next 20 years?

I won't go into all the plans that were rejected, but we have settled on a course of action. This is a first step that we believe will result in a continuation of ownership by local community members who share our passion for good journalism.

We didn't have to look far for partners. They were sitting in the nearby cubicles.

On Jan. 1, Editor Hank Sims, Sales Manager Mike Herring and A&E Editor Bob Doran became co-owners of the Journal. They are now minority stockholders while Carolyn and I retain majority control, at least for the near future.

We couldn't be happier.

And about that big 20th birthday party? We picked the month of July since that was when our first edition hit the streets. Mark your calendar.

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About The Author

Judy Hodgson

Bio:
Judy Hodgson is the publisher of the North Coast Journal.

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