A good local, small town newspaper has its finger on the pulse of the society it serves. Our community is fortunate to have the San Marino Tribune, with its storied past and its emphasis on local issues since 1928. Not all small towns are so lucky, but then San Marino is not just any small town.
The history of local newspapers in America begins with 18th century colonists. Benjamin Franklin’s older brother James established a literary precedent with The New England Courant. In response to the desires of many respectable colonists he created a “different” type of paper, one that appealed to a local audience with satirical essays, poetry and history written by his Hell-Fire Club, a paper where they critiqued local fashions and politicians.
The San Marino Tribune’s history of reporting community issues and events is well known to residents. Did you know The Tribune once was mentioned in a Cold War debate at the United Nations? A Soviet member of the U.N. claimed American newspapers were government controlled and monopolistic. San Marino resident and U.S. representative Preston Hotchkis, argued our Tribune was independent and locally owned, a true example of the American free press.
Two months ago Andy and Carin Salter, joined an outstanding list of owners and editors. The Tribune first appeared in March 1928. Clarence O’Dell Miller, the paper’s first owner and editor Hilary Shillam, displayed the motto “Devoted to the Progress and Prosperity of San Marino,” a motto that continued for most of the paper’s history.
In 1929 Frank Collins, a former presidential advisor and assistant U.S. attorney general, moved to San Marino and purchased The Tribune. Life in our small town was a far cry from Washington, D.C. where he argued 24 cases before the Supreme Court. He grew to love his new life and ran The Tribune until he died in 1943. Collins viewed the paper as a tool of progress and community building with its focus on local people, organizations and activities.
Edith Collins carried on her husband’s vision for three years after his death and in 1946 sold the Tribune to Herbert McCormick. For the next 31 years, The Tribune’s motto and mission remained the same. Residents counted on The Tribune to keep them abreast of city council actions, activities of the city’s many volunteer organizations, youth sports and the important life events of city residents.
Dorothy Rice became editor in 1977 when Rice Properties purchased The Tribune and her husband Frank took over as publisher in 1985 when he retired from Bullocks. Together they were dedicated to preserving the traditions shaped by their predecessors. Clifton Smith & a group of investors purchased the paper in 1995, and with Mitch Lehman as editor, continued to publish The Tribune until recently.
Many changes occurred over the years, some relating directly to San Marino, others reflecting larger social and political changes in the nation. For almost a century, The Tribune has remained an important San Marino institution. As the Salters open a new chapter in The Tribune’s history, San Marino looks forward to a continuing tradition of excellence and commitment to local issues. That wonderful hometown feeling initiated in 1928 is still embraced by the city’s residents.
As a long-time resident of the city and a professional historian, I am committed to preserving our city’s history. I will be contributing bi-weekly articles of historical interest to San Marino residents. I welcome your comments and suggestions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.