The Tracy Press
is co-published by Will Fleet and Ralph Alldredge, who purchased the newspaper from the Matthews family in 2012. They took over publication Nov. 12 under the name Tank Town Media, and introduced themselves to the community:
During the past few months, we have met many Tracy residents and appreciate all of the good wishes they have extended to us as new owners of the Tracy Press.
But no community newspaper is truly owned by the people whose names appear on the masthead. It belongs to the entire community, because it cannot survive without the support and participation of readers, advertisers and the community at large. All of our plans for the Tracy Press are built upon that fundamental truth. ...
We invite you to join us in developing the kind of relationship between the Tracy Press and its community which helps both grow and prosper.
The Tracy Press has been dedicated to covering the city of Tracy for more than 100 years. It was first published April 2, 1898, was purchased by the Matthews family in 1943, and operated by the Matthews family until its sale in 2012.
Today, it remains for thousands of people the prime source of news and information about Tracy and its corner of San Joaquin County.
Tank Town Media also owns and runs other weekly papers, including the Patterson Irrigator
, Scotts Valley Press-Banner
and San Lorenzo Valley Press-Banner
Tracy Press sale completed
This article ran in the Tracy Press on Nov. 23, 2012.
The sale of Tracy Press Inc. — which includes its three newspapers but not its printing operations — was finalized Nov. 12.
Will Fleet, former publisher of the McClatchy Co.-owned Fresno Bee, and Ralph Alldredge, publisher of the San Andreas-based Calaveras Enterprise, completed the purchase for $425,000.
They take over the paper from the Matthews family, which bought the Tracy Press in 1943.
“Ralph and I are excited about our new venture,” Fleet said. “Tracy is a wonderful community, and we look forward to carrying on the Matthews family tradition of community journalism and public service.”
Chief Judge Christopher M. Klein approved the pair’s purchase bid in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of California in Sacramento on Oct. 10.
JP Media Partners was appointed by the court to conduct the sale process, which lasted about 18 months.
The final sale of the company by members of the Matthews family included the Tracy Press, the Patterson Irrigator and the Scotts Valley Banner.
Printing press equipment, which was located in Tracy and sold at a separate auction, and accounts receivable that are being retained by the Matthews family were not included in the sale, Potts said.
The two sides worked to complete the sale process during the month between the court’s acceptance of the bid and the sale’s conclusion.
Robert Matthews took over in 1997 as publisher of the Press and oversaw the sale of the company.
Alldredge and Fleet are expected to serve as co-publishers of all three papers under the new company name Tank Town Media.
Each man has previously served a one-year term as president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
Tracy Press Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2010. The Press was first printed April 2, 1898.
Harvey F. Matthews purchased the paper in 1943. Harvey’s wife, Laura Matthews, took over day-to-day operations when he died of a heart attack in 1949.
She was joined by her two sons, Sam and Tom Matthews, in 1957. The brothers became co-publishers in 1960 until Tom left the business in 1997, and his son Robert Matthews took over until the sale to Fleet and Alldredge.
Sam Matthews will remain in his role as publisher emeritus.
Tracy Press marks second century
This article ran in the Tracy Press on April 2, 1998.
Southeast of Tracy, strong winds blew down George Finck’s mill. In town, G.A.D. Buschke’s 14-month-old son, who had been near death, is now out of danger.
It was April 2, 1898, when these news items broke in the Tracy Press. Thousands more followed in subsequent years.
Today marks 100 years since the Tracy Press first hit the streets, making it the city’s longest-running business.
“ A hometown newspaper is a very important part of the community,” said Tom Matthews, publisher emeritus and member of the Tracy Press board. “I’m very pleased with what we’ve been able to maintain.”
The first issue made its debut as a weekly with world and national news briefs, fictional stories and a column titled “The Fair Sex,” which offered women readers housekeeping tips.
Through the years, the Press has changed from an afternoon weekly to a twice-a-week morning paper to a three-, five- and finally six-day daily.
It has been family owned throughout the years, with members of the Matthews family in control for the past 55 years.
Tom and Sam Matthews, the longest running publishers of the paper, began work at the Tracy Press during World War II, while they were students at West Park School.
“ Everyone went to war, and there was no one to help,” Tom Matthews said. “It was a family deal.”
Their father, Harvey F. Matthews, had bought the paper in 1943 after working on the staff for four years. After the war ended and men returned to work, Tom and Sam Matthews stopped working at the paper while students at Tracy High. On the day of the grand opening of the new plant on A Street in 1949, Harvey Matthews had a fatal heart attack. His widow, Laura, took over as publisher.
“ At the time, we didn’t realize how important or unusual it was that she continued on,” Sam Matthews said. “Over the years, we have been more aware of her determination to keep the Press in the family.”
Tom and Sam returned in 1957 to help their mother — temporarily, they thought — after finishing college and serving in the military.
“‘ Awhile’ turned out to be a whole lifetime of work here,” Tom Matthews said.
The two divided the work. Tom handled the business side while Sam focused on the news . They say it’s the reason they lasted together so long.
“ Being in business with family is difficult at best," Tom Matthews said. “Sam and I have never had a major problem.”
Soon after becoming involved with the Press, the two brothers made two major changes. In 1960, they moved the paper from a twice-weekly distributed in the afternoon to a tri-weekly delivered in the morning. A year later, they installed one of the first newspaper offset presses in California.
In 1986, the Press added Tuesday and Thursday publication days to become a five-day daily, and in 1995 added a Saturday edition.
An original copy of the first paper is kept in the Tracy Historical Museum.
Thomas Duffy first published the paper after other weeklies with names such as Tracy News, the Tracy Exponent and Tracy Times failed.
Betty Galli, a board member for the San Joaquin Historical Society, attributes the paper’s longevity to the Matthews family.
“ They worked hard, and that’s what it takes.”
While small and large independently owned papers are gobbled up by newspaper chains, the Tracy Press has managed to stay under family control. Of all the daily newspapers in California, only about a half-dozen are family owned, like the Press.
“ We wanted to stay in business,” Tom Matthews said. “If we sold the paper, we wouldn’t be here.”
Since the Press started, competition for readers’ attention has increased, especially in the last decade.
“ It’s a different game,” Tom Matthews said. “We’ve been able to hold our own very well considering the economic power of newspapers coming into the market.”
Sam Matthews continues as publisher emeritus and member of the Tracy Press board.
“ Tom and I are taking less active roles, now that the third generation of the family is taking over,” Sam Matthews said.
In 1997, Tom’s son, Robert Matthews, became publisher and president.
“ The paper is in a fortunate position to be in a growing community,” Bob Matthews said. “A newspaper is a business, and it must grow and thrive to be successful. Still, no matter how big the town gets or how big we get, we always want to feel like a ‘small town’ paper.”