Recording history for others to benefit

Without access to primary sources, there is no knowing for certain what the anonymous author’s absolute motive was behind a column in the first issue of The National City Record in 1882, but a reasonable inference can be made—economic growth and municipal prosperity.

“One of the most important enterprises calculated to affect the growth or success of any new city, town or settlement, in these days of rapid development, is a good printing office with a live public newspaper,” wrote the presumed publisher/editor of National City’s first paper of record. They went on to reveal who their intended audience was: the educated and business class.

“We have concluded to issue a weekly paper to be devoted to general news, local affairs and the fruit and the mineral resources of this portion of the state…as to merit the approval and secure the patronage of an intelligent community.”

“We shall meet a hearty response from all intelligent citizens and the business people of the county.”

In appealing to the interests of those who shape a community to their liking, The Record was inserting itself as a player and influencer of civic life to match its own agenda. Or possibly, the agenda of those who supported it such as land developer—and founder of National City—Frank Kimball.

Over time, as The Record evolved into the The National City News in 1903 and ultimately The Star-News in 1954 the paper’s stated and inferred goal has changed.

While many preferred the local newspaper to be a cheerleader and booster of the business community, power brokers and status quo others applauded when, as nearly a century later one columnist and publisher put it, they were there to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Whatever its stated or hidden agenda may be, there is no denying that for 140 years this newspaper captured moments and events that shaped Chula Vista and National City. It has captured history, setting down lessons to those who would come along and learn from those who went before them. In doing so they hopefully avoid making costly mistakes that have already been made and emulating the actions that have brought success.