H&N Opinion Editor

Like the region they covered, Klamath Falls newspapers spanned the march through time from horse and wagon to the latest in jet airplanes.

Those newspapers had a lot of different names and different owners in 123 years of Klamath Falls newspaper history and many were established to push political goals rather than report the news . The Herald and News traces its lineage back just over a hundred years.

Those early newspapers energetically took part in the area's political battles with a vehemence that makes modern editorial pages look tame.

Their "high" point was reached in 1912, when three daily newspapers competed for readers in a Klamath Falls that was far smaller than it is today . The newspapers were embroiled in controversy roiling the county about which of three locations the county's courthouse should be built.

Within a few years, though, only the Herald remained.

Newspapers' technology also changed radically during those 123 years. Production processes that were rooted in molten metal and physical labor turned increasingly toward electronics and computers, which were drawn heavily on the move in August 2007 of the Herald and News from downtown Klamath Falls to its new building and presses at 2701 Foothills Boulevard .

As an interim process during the move, the pages were put together at the new site, but published at the old one with the same technology that allows such national newspapers as the Wall Street Journal to print and distribute the same daily editions on both the East and West coasts, thousands of miles apart.

Here are some of the highlights of H&N's first 100 years.

The Herald and News traces its lineage to 1906 when Mr. and Mrs. Fred Cronemiller started the Evening Herald. Fred Cronemiller did the writing, his wife set the type and their three children distributed the newspaper. The first "Klamath Falls" newspaper started in 1884, with publication of the Linkville Express. In 1893, "Linkville" changed its name to Klamath Falls.

Klamath Falls' daily newspaper, the Morning Express, began in 1907. The owner got his "wire" news from a person in Ashland he paid to get a copy of the Portland Evening Telegram off the train and read him the highlights on the phone.

Newspapers came and went during the early 1900s. They represented different political viewpoints and different parts of town and it wasn't rare for a publisher or editor to leave one of them in a huff, turn up at another and completely change the political orientation of his newspaper. During those turbulent times, E. J. Murray owned or co-owned the Evening Herald three times in 22 years.

Some of those names from Klamath County's early newspaper history included the Linkville Star, the Star, the Klamath Falls Express and the Republican, which by 1905 was ahead in its circulation race with the Express 367 to 321.

Other newspapers were the Chonicle, the Pioneer Press, the Northwestern, the Record, the Sun and the News. In some cases, the newspapers kept their same physical facilities, but got new names and new owners. The downtown location, which, until August 2007 was the home of the Herald and News, had belonged to the Northwestern, which went under in 1915.

Economic realities dictated against having more than one daily newspaper in such a small market.

In 1926, Bruce Dennis bought the News. He already owned the Herald and he consolidated production of the two newspapers, but kept separate editorial staffs.

In 1932, he sold the newspapers to Frank Jenkins, Ernest Gilstrap and Eugene Kelty, who had been working at the Eugene Register.

Ten years later, faced with a shortage of newsprint during World War II, Jenkins consolidated the two newspapers into the Herald and News, which by then was at its downtown site at 1301 Esplanade Ave. The Herald and the News were consolidated into a single newspaper in 1942.

The time of competing daily newspapers in Klamath Falls was over, but it wasn't the end of change.

The Herald and News was sold in 1960 to the Klamath Publishing Co., which was an arm of Scripps League, a partnership of two brothers, Jim and Ed Scripps. They owned a large number of small newspapers. In a later reorganization, the Herald and News became part of Pioneer Newspapers, which is headquartered in Seattle and owned primarily by the members of the Jim Scripps family.

Even though the newspaper ownership and competition had become a settled issue, changes continued to come to the newspaper plant at its location at the corner of Esplanade and Pine.

In 1967, the H&N's home was mostly torn down and a new building was constructed at the same location to accommodate a new printing process.

For years, the principal piece of printing equipment was the Mergenthaler Linotype, a Rube Goldberg-type device with which printers typed stories into molten-lead "slugs" of metal type. Each line was a separate line, the width of a newspaper column, about 2 inches in those days. The lead slugs were compiled into separate stories and locked into a metal "chaise" for the next steps in production.

More than one young journalist learned with sorrow never to touch the type. The separate slugs weren't solid and could fall to pieces — each line as tall as these typed letters, and only as wide as a column. Trying to reassemble a pile of metal slugs was complicated by the fact that the type was upside down and backwards so they would print properly on the press. Later on, the process was computerized with many of the words typed into ribbon-like strips of computer tape that were run through the Linotype machines.

Computers continued to be introduced into the production process. In the conversion to cold type offset printing, molten metal was replaced by much easier-to-use pieces of photographic paper cut into pieces and "pasted up" on thin, page-sized pieces of fiber board.

Later, that process was replaced by computers on which pages are built electronically.

The latest changes at the Herald and News continue in that same direction. In addition to new equipment in the pre-press production, the newspaper has a new $3.4 million press.

The current operation is also making more use of the Internet, and has an option for subscribers to get the entire newspaper over the Internet.

It's the same newspaper, but without the "paper."

Much of the information for this history was drawn from documents from the Klamath County Museum, included the writings of past museum officials, Harry Drew and C. William Burk.

Herald and News Publishers

2004 - present: Heidi Wright

1999 - 2004: John Walker

1991 - 1999: Dwight Tracy

1977 - 1991: Jim Allen

1963 - 1976: Joe Caraher

1960 - 1963: Bill Sweetland

1942 - 1960: Frank Jenkins