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Mesa Musings: All the News that's fit to print

March 08, 2011|By Jim Carnett

The old Huntington Beach News has been defunct as a street publication for a long time now, but I haven't forgotten it.

It currently exists as an E-newspaper.

I grew up in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach in the 1950s and '60s without exposure to the News. The newspapers I cut my teeth on were the Costa Mesa Globe-Herald, Newport Harbor News-Press and Santa Ana Register.

I didn't encounter the weekly Huntington Beach News until I was a media professional.

In the summer of 1971, I was a newly hired assistant in Orange Coast College's public information office. At that time, the News employed eight people and had been publishing for seven decades. It had a paid circulation of 4,000.

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The newspaper was headquartered in an ancient building on Main Street, a block from the ocean in Surf City. The News was known for its full-size format, "juicy" local coverage and huge photographs.

The paper ran an engaging front-page column each week by owner-publisher George Farquhar. The column offered Farquhar's take on local politics and local characters, or words about his latest surfing exploits or his romances. There was a fifth category he covered that he labeled "just plain monkey business."

Even as a senior citizen in the 1970s, Farquhar went surfing daily and was one of the better senior surfers along our coast. When I'd visit the News office, I'd see his surfboard propped against the wall near his desk.

Farquhar's "editorial touch" could be seen throughout the newspaper. In addition to his column, the front page usually included a glamour shot of a bikini-clad beauty.

One of my early responsibilities at OCC was writing and editing programs for the college's half-dozen home football games each season. During my first five or six years on staff, the eight-page programs were printed at the News.

I'd deliver the copy, photos and layout to the News on Monday the week of a home game, and proof it mid-week. I'd return Friday — or, if a press broke down, Saturday — to pick up the printed copies.

The News probably made $200 off each game, or $1,200 per season. It wasn't much, but the newspaper came to depend upon our business over the years. As a consequence, the News was decidedly displeased when, in about 1976, we elected to more cheaply produce the programs on campus.

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