Can the Turlock Journal Survive? by Ed Brault

The Journal started off as a weekly back in 1904 when Turlock had a population of a few hundred. Since then it has changed owners, editors, locations, and staff numerous times. The original owners sold the paper to printer Edwin Earl Ullberg shortly after World War l, and it was published daily. In 1920, the Farmers’ Press Association took over and changed the name to the Farmers’ Daily Journal. The paper was sold again in 1933. Seven years later, the paper was sold yet again to Edward and Vera Frayne who moved the Journal from South First Street to its present location at South Center and Crane. Guess what! The Journal was sold again in 1941 and again to Freedom Communications and again in 1996 and again and again until the present when it was purchased by Morris Multimedia and switched to publishing twice weekly.
When I arrived in Turlock in the early 60ies, it was quite fashionable to badmouth, criticize, and ridicule the Journal.   However, I suspect some of this was done with a degree of affection. After all, it was and is OUR one and only newspaper.   Most older Turlockers remember the Journal being called the Urinal as it might be pronounced in Swedish. It seems the Journal never had enough money to hire a first-rate proofreader. At times, the number of errors of all kinds, typographical, orthographical, and grammatical, was rampant. Most former editors had a good sense of humor and would publish most letters to the editors, even those that denigrated the Journal.
Let’s be fair about this. We shouldn’t expect the same performance from football players at Turlock High School as we would expect from teams in the NFL. There is no way the Journal could meet the same standards as the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times, or even the San Francisco Chronicle. Good grief! It’s a small-town newspaper with a circulation of about 4000. On top of that, it has to compete with the Modesto Bee in a city three times as big.
Newspapers all over America seem to be hurting or dying out. I’m sorry to see that. Newspapers have features and aspects that TV and computers lack. It’s nice to scan a newspaper while drinking a cup of hot coffee. Personally, I am not fond of reading long articles off a computer screen. It is no secret that I would like to see the people who currently run the Journal find jobs more suitable to their talents, but I sincerely hope the Turlock Journal can survive. And I would prefer to see it owned by a Turlocker who really cares about the welfare of the paper.   And finally, in my less than humble opinion, I think it is an error in judgment to ask young, inexperienced reporters to express themselves on the opinion page. Do I hear an AMEN?

Ed Brault is a former columnist for the Turlock Journal and is now writing independently on Ed Brault may be contacted at

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