LOOKING BACK

Young Chang

It's unthinkable.

Can you even imagine a town, a city, a world without newspapers?

Everyone gossiping, information getting twisted, the final report being

shades different from its original hue. Frightening.

Newport Beach didn't have a newspaper until 1907. Prior to that,

everyone would congregate in hot spots and gab. The zealous ones, of

course, took it upon themselves to venture forth and spread the message.

But when the Newport News came along, people from Balboa and Newport

finally had a source to report its complaints and controversies. One of

the first issues reported had to do with a battle between an anti-liquor

group and an opposition team referred to as the "wets" in James Felton's

book "Newport Beach, The First Century, 1888-1988."

According to the "Genealogy of the 4th Estate -- Newport Harbor," put

together by R.D. Reddick, whose father Ben Reddick was a publisher, other

Newport papers continued to pop up (We'll save the history of the Daily

Pilot for a later column). The Balboa Bulletin came to be in 1922. The

Costa Mesa Courier and the Costa Mesa Reporter followed a year later. The

Harbor Herald began business in 1927.

The printing process then was eons behind technology today as people

would "set" the paper by hand, use movable type, paper cutters and offset

lithography.

In 1948, the Newport Ensign started publication in Corona del Mar. By

the time World War II was over, Ben Reddick was publishing the Newport

Balboa Press and a publisher named Sam Meyer operated The Newport Beach

News Times.

The early papers weren't very big, said longtime Newport resident Gay

Wassall-Kelly, who publishes the Balboa Beacon. The stories were less

detailed and sometimes they just reported the facts without getting into

the whys and hows, she added.

"Maybe it wasn't necessary," Wassall-Kelly said. "Things were less

complicated then."

In the '50s, the resident remembers her parents reading the Newport

Balboa News Press. She and her friends would flip through it just for

movie listings.

* Do you know of a person, place or event that deserves a historical

Look Back? Let us know. Contact Young Chang by fax at (949) 646-4170;

e-mail at young.chang@latimes.com; or mail her at c/o Daily Pilot, 330 W.

Bay St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

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