I find myself melancholy over the end of the five-day-a-week Daily Triplicate. Last Friday night, she was put to bed one last time, replaced by the three-day-a-week edition of the Del Norte Triplicate.
Of course, I have a unique perspective; for 8andfrac12; years I was editor of The Daily Triplicate, from its infancy to its middle age.
The Triplicate went to a five-day-a-week publication schedule in early 1991. The move made sense at the time. Pelican Bay State Prison had recently opened, Safeway had just moved into its new facility, and Wal-Mart and Kmart were coming soon. From a distance, the future looked bright.
Looks can be deceiving.
It was a different time in Del Norte County, and not necessarily a
better time. There was an ugly, almost cruel schism between the
newcomers the prison had brought to the community and those with
long-established roots. The retail section of downtown Crescent City was
in its fading light. The promises of economic salvation from tourists
visiting Redwood National Park and the Smith River National Recreation
Area never materialized as hoped.
I arrived in late June of that year, barely 30 years old, woefully in
over my head, given the task of convincing Del Norte County that a
daily newspaper was something it not only wanted, but needed. There were
vague plans for turning the newspaper into a regional product that
would serve Curry County as well. For many reasons, that idea never took
root. Meanwhile, the initial rollout of the new product in Del Norte
County had been less than successful and the former editor - a fine but
probably overwhelmed journalist - had been let go.
I truly lacked a clue of what I was getting into, but I found out in a
My first day on the job, the phone rang. It was a Klamath resident, a
person I would later learn had some influence in Del Norte County. For
the next three minutes or so, he told me what a poor job I was doing,
using terms not suitable for a family newspaper - or, for that matter, a
"Sir," I finally was able to say when he took a breath, "I have been
on the job now for all of 15 minutes."
"Well andhellip; you andhellip; you need to get out more," he said, slamming the phone
down. A few years later, I would write his obituary, using that first
experience to truthfully say he was a "colorful and strong-willed
Over the decade of the 1990s, The Daily Triplicate was my life. I
probably ate more meals at my desk than at my home. On rare vacations, I
would write editorials on the road, and then fax them to the office for
publication the next day. We fought a never-ending - and sometime
losing - battle between filling our news space with local material,
keeping overtime costs to a minimum, and trying not to let too many
typos slip through the cracks.
(I am less than proud to say that I personally created in print the
"California Correctional Peach Officers Association" and well as the
infamous "American Association of Retarded Persons." And I still cringe
over the time the "Obituaries" logo was placed over the birth
The Daily Triplicate did good things, too. The early coverage of the
solid waste problems in Del Norte County was important. I am proud of
the newspaper's role in exposing graft and other issues at the Crescent
In the process, a number of fine journalists began or advanced their
careers in Crescent City, award-winning individuals such as Mark Ylen,
Jennifer Moody, Ty Walker, Nick Baker, Julie Johnson and others, plus
those who came after my departure in the year 2000.
Those editors who followed me over the next decade - Fred Obee, Mike
Schmeltzer, Rob Bignell and now Richard Wiens - earned their stripes as
well, putting out a product every Tuesday through Saturday. The
technology improved, the faces changed, but the goal was still the same;
to provide readers with a complete, up-to-date news, entertainment and
Alas, the economic and logistic hurdles required to put out a daily
newspaper became too much. For a community this size, a three-day-a-week
paper just makes too much sense. In all honesty, it probably should
have been done long ago. After 20-plus years, The Daily Triplicate is
gone. The Del Norte Triplicate is back. Long may she wave.
But let us remember with some fondness that two-decade experiment
that was The Daily Triplicate. That time will undoubtedly be just a
footnote in the long, overall history of the Triplicate publications,
but she served her role, to the best of the ability of those who toiled
under her banner.
Rest in peace, old friend. Rest in peace.
John Pritchett is the general manager of Del Norte Ambulance.