Martinez News-Gazette to print its final edition after 161 years in operation

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- The Martinez News-Gazette began in 1858 and after 161 years, the paper's last issue will be on newsstands on Dec. 29.

The beloved newspaper began publishing before the Civil War, reported through two World Wars and numerous periods of political upheaval.

Editor Rick Jones calls it a disturbing national trend.

"Not a day goes by I don't think that you don't hear about some paper shuttering completely as we are, or cutting back on their frequency of publication," he said.

Jones says the owner hasn't given a specific reason, but it's no secret the paper is losing money as it tries to compete with online news sites and its big-city cousins.

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder says the city relied on Gazette reporters who were there for every city council meeting.

"How is the truth going to get out?" Schroder said. "Blogs are not the way, social media definitely not, so it's a real concern of mine as mayor of this city."

There were some tears as staff got together for a final remembrance, but it was not all sad.

"You'd think I was a queen or something?" Cetko said.

The paper's long-time legal editor, 93-year-old Barbara Cetko was queen for a day as the mayor proclaimed Friday, "Barbara Cetko Day" in Martinez.

Not only is she a senior employee, but she may also be the last person in downtown Martinez to use a typewriter for part of her duties.

Though a little girl in the office stared at the typewriter quizzically, apparently not sure what it was for.

Nobody knows what will replace the community paper that published through depressions, wars, earthquakes, and fires, or what will happen to its soon to be former employees-- Except for Barbara Cetko.

"I'm going to pester the heck out of the grandkids," Cetko said, filling the room with laughter.

It's okay, she's earned it.

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