BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Bakersfield Californian, family-owned for 122 years, has been sold, the paper reported Sunday evening.
The Moorhouse family, including the paper’s president, Virginia “Ginger” Moorhouse, released a statement posted to the paper’s website saying, in part:
“After 122 years of ownership, our family is selling The Bakersfield Californian and the other ancillary publications and digital properties owned by our company, TBC Media.
We have entered into a definitive agreement to sell these assets to Sound News Media, led by veteran newspaper executive Steven Malkowich, as the new ownership of the newspaper. The parties anticipate that the transaction will be completed on June 30, 2019.”
The sale ends the Californian’s tenure as one of the last family-owned papers in the state – and raises questions as to what changes will be implemented by its new owner.
Malkowich owns newspapers across the country and Canada. He is the executive vice president at a company called Alberta Newspaper Group, and in 2017 purchased the Antelope Valley Press.
Rumors about the paper possibly being sold have circulated for years following staffing cuts and other changes.
Last year, the paper moved from its historic building on Eye Street in downtown Bakersfield to an industrial park near Meadows Field.
It marked the latest in a number of changes, some big, some relatively minor, in the century-plus since Alfred Harrell, the son of a California pioneer, purchased The Daily Californian for $1,000 in 1897.
According to a recounting of the Californian’s history published in 2016, the paper in the late 1800s was housed in a rented room on 18th Street, and its entire staff was composed of one reporter, a printer, three typesetters, a printer’s apprentice and three carrier boys.
The paper moved to Eye Street between 18th and 20th streets in October 1901.
“On that date, The Californian inaugurated its Associated Press leased wire service and a Linotype machine supplanted the old hand-set method and a fast Duplex press was installed along with a modern job office,” the article states.
Then in 1926 the paper moved to the location it called home for most of its existence — 1707 Eye St. That building, which in 1983 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, housed the paper through decades of growth as it added a new addition for photography and engraving services.
Harrell died Dec. 14, 1946, at the age of 83.
His wife, Virginia McKamy Harrell, served for eight years as publisher after his death. Their only child, Bernice Harrell Chipman, served as the next president (1954-67), according to the article, and Chipman’s only living child, Berenice Fritts Koerber, succeeded her from 1967-88.
The company constructed a $21 million publishing facility near Meadows Field in 1984. Its underground fiber-optic cable system, was the first of its kind for a newspaper in the United States, according to the paper.
Harrell’s great-granddaughter, Virginia “Ginger” Moorhouse,” has served as the paper’s president since 1989.