Sonoma County Herald-Recorder to cease publication
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.
The Sonoma County Herald-Recorder will cease publication next week after losing a two-year court battle with The Press Democrat that challenged the legal journal's status as a “newspaper of general circulation.”
The Herald-Recorder, published daily from Monday to Friday, ran legal notices and announcements about real estate transactions, foreclosures and court calendars. According to court documents, the Santa Rosa newspaper had about 80 subscribers.
Under the law, certain legal notices in California, such as foreclosure notices, must be published in a newspaper of general circulation. The Press Democrat sued the Herald-Record, contending it did not meet the law's requirements.
“The purpose of the lawsuit was to make sure that the public sees these notices that the Legislature and local agencies deem important,” said Bruce Kyse, publisher of The Press Democrat. “We felt that their very low readership hardly constituted a broad audience ... so we challenged it.”
Christine Griego, publisher of the Sonoma County Herald-Recorder, sent a letter to subscribers saying the newspaper will close Oct. 15. She declined to answer questions Tuesday about the reasons for the newspaper's closure.
“There really isn't any more to the story,” Griego said. “You guys sued us, we lost, so we're out of business.”
The Herald-Recorder has been published in Sonoma County since 1899, according to the company. It was sold by owners Dale and Winifred “Teddie” Sipe in 1988 to the Daily Journal Corp., which later moved printing to its Los Angeles plant.
To qualify as a newspaper of general circulation, the law states the paper must deliver local news and intelligence of a general nature, must have a subscription list of paying subscribers, and must be printed in the city, state or county where it is published.
The Press Democrat's circulation varies between 57,000 and 60,000, depending on the day, Kyse said.
The Press Democrat filed a lawsuit against the Herald-Record in 2010. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Mark Tansil concluded the Herald-Recorder met the requirements to be a “newspaper of general circulation.” The Press Democrat appealed the ruling, and the First Appellate District Court ruled in favor of The Press Democrat in June.
The decision has resulted in an increase in legal notices published in The Press Democrat, and accordingly, in advertising revenue for the newspaper.
“Clearly there's revenue in question here, but at the end of the day, the courts sided with us,” Kyse said.
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