This week marks a major change in a long-standing institution in Mariposa County — this newspaper.
Last Friday, the Mariposa Gazette came under new ownership.
Nicole W. Little and Greg Little purchased the newspaper from Marian and R.D. “Dan” Tucker.
Dan Tucker purchased the paper more than 20 years ago.
Nicole Little was named president and publisher of the newspaper. Greg Little is the vice-president and remains in his position as editor.
The Littles have been employed at the newspaper for nearly two years, Nicole serving as office manager and Greg as the editor. They moved to Mariposa in March 2016, from Rexburg, Idaho, where they both worked for the newspaper in that city.
“I am looking forward to carrying the long-standing tradition of the Gazette,” said Nicole.
“We are really excited, and a little nervous, about taking over this institution,” said Greg. “As far as we can tell, the Gazette is the oldest business in Mariposa County, so it’s a big responsibility.”
The newspaper was founded in 1854 and is the longest continuously published weekly newspaper in the state of California.
Shantel Wight remains at the newspaper as the advertising manager.
Matt Johnson, who was the sports and education editor, has been named as the assistant editor of the paper. He will continue to focus on sports and education coverage, as well as other news and feature stories.
John Mabon will continue his role in the circulation aspect of the Gazette.
“Our team is the heart of this newspaper,” said Nicole. “We all work well together and will continue to provide the best news and advertising information in Mariposa County.”
Since coming to Mariposa, the Littles have changed the direction of the newspaper, focusing solely on local news of interest. It was also decided to focus on education and sports, two key elements of high interest in Mariposa County.
“That will not change,” said Greg. “The focus of any good community news- paper is just that, the community. We will continue what we have been doing and will be looking at ways to improve upon our product.”
One of those, he said, is having a more engaged opinion section. Greg will be writing a weekly column and he said they are in the process of reaching out to the community to various organizations and individuals who may be interested in contributing a regular column.
“We haven’t focused on the opinion side of the newspaper, but that is going to change,” he said. “That section is the voice of the newspaper as well as of the community. Everyone should be able to voice their opinions on various issues.”
The main reason the Littles came to Mariposa was to purchase the newspaper. That was part of the original plan when they were employed at the Gazette.
In today’s environment, some newspapers are struggling, however, they believe in locally owned businesses and said that’s the key to the continued success of local newspapers.
“We don’t have a corporate board of directors who only look at the bottom line and not what the local community needs,” said Greg. “We make the decisions on the local level and that is the main reason smaller newspapers are still doing well in this country.”
In many ways, the Gazette belongs to the people as it is the community’s newspaper. However, it is still a fact the newspaper is a business just like any other and there are expenses, including local employment, that have to be met each month.
The Littles said they look at it like they are the caretakers of a Mariposa County institution. The paper has been here for more than a century and a half, with various local people providing news and advertising information all of those years.
“Our role is to serve the community in the best way possible. We strive to give our readers what they want and to be fair and honest in our reporting,” said Greg.
Being named publisher, Nicole, according to historic records about the Gazette, becomes the third female in the long history of the newspaper to occupy the top position.
Historical records indicate Kate Dexter and Marguerite Campbell both served as publishers of the newspaper.
“I am proud and excited to become part of the history of this newspaper,” said Nicole.
As part of that effort, both Greg and Nicole Little ask that anyone who has input on the newspaper should contact them for a discussion. Whether it’s a complaint, compliment, suggestion or anything else, both said the doors are open to anyone who wants to have a conversation.
You can also stop by the office at 5108 Highway 14, Suite B in Mariposa.
During his tenure as publisher, Tucker won numerous awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and National Newspaper Association.
He also donated tens of thousands of dollars to a variety of community fundraisers and service organizations, youth and high school sports, and in particular to the Friends of the Fairgrounds Association to support the Mariposa County Fair.
“It’s been a privilege to serve the community that both me and my wife really care about,” Tucker said.