Tuesday, Oct 01 2013 06:00 AM

The good old days

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Claudia Elliott

I wasn't in the office at the time, but I'm told we had a recent visitor who said she wished we would get the paper back like it was before it was purchased by The Bakersfield Californian.

Staff who were there asked her if she could share what it was that she missed and she said it the paper used to have more of a "country feel" and that she didn't mind the mis-spelled words, but would like to have a womens page and more coverage of kids and schools.

We like feedback and I've given her comments a lot of thought to see how we can use them to improve.

I remember the first issues I read of the Tehachapi News, about 50 years ago. The paper was a tabloid then, too, and generally ran eight to 12 pages. There weren't many photos because the technology available at the time made it difficult to have them.

Several pages were ads for grocery stores and classifieds. In fact, there were ads from just about every business in town.

The stories were a mix of good news and bad, just like today, along with wedding announcements, engagement notices and perhaps the most popular feature, "Over the Back Fence," a chatty column by Joan Johnson, wife of co-publisher Dick Johnson, who wrote the sports stories.

I feel privileged to have worked for the Johnson family and later the Mead family, who bought the paper from them. And now I'm working for the family that owns The Bakersfield Californian and the Tehachapi News, so I think I have a pretty good perspective from which to look at the progress of the newspaper through the years.

I say progress because I can assure you that no one ever set out to make the Tehachapi News seem like a "country paper." It was a "country paper" bevause we were a "country town" and the truth is that we're just not quite as country anymore and the paper reflects that.

Through the years, every staff of the News has done its best to pull together stories and photos that represent life in Tehachapi and present them to our readers in a professional manner. Sometimes we've done that better than other times.

I looked back at issues from 50 years ago (the few really old papers we have in the office) and at some from the 90s, before the Mead family sold the paper.

By then the paper was a broadsheet -- the term we use to describe the page size that is about twice the size of what we publish today. And it was full of advertising including quite a lot of real estate and from car dealers in Bakersfield and the Antelope Valley.

To be honest, there weren't that many more stories than we run today, but the type was larger and everything was spread out to fill those huge pages!

Today we have a more compact page and full color photographs, but we put the paper together here in Tehachapi, just like we did in the "good old days." It's not someone in Bakersfield who makes decisions about what we run, our staff does that.

This week we're meeting with a high school class and hoping the students can help us get more photos of young people in the paper. And in November we'll have our "Publicity 101" workshop again to help clubs, organizations and businesses know what they need to do to get their news in the paper.

And for those who want them, we also offer up a selection of mis-spelled words on a regular basis as I'm told by those who don't appreciate that particular characteristic.

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Send email to: celliott@tehachapinews.com or call 823-6360.

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