Clipper Staff Writer
WEST BOUNTIFUL — Other than the Davis Clipper, only three weekly newspapers survive along the Wasatch Front and all are struggling.
That’s according to Clipper Publisher Gail Stahle, who spoke to members of the Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club last week. He spoke briefly of the newspaper’s history, as well as the problems facing newspapers and publishing in general.
The Davis Clipper began publishing 122 years ago. Stahle said there are several versions about how the newspaper started and how it got its name.
One of the stories had Lamoni Call putting a printing press on a wagon and printing copies of the “Little Clipper,” that he handed out as he traveled down the July 24 parade route in Bountiful, Stahle said.
While Call was adept at the mechanical aspects of printing the publication, he couldn’t write or edit. That job fell to Stahle’s grandfather who bought the paper four years later for $500, Stahle said. That was 118 years ago. The current publisher is the third generation in his family to own and operate the paper.
He started working at the Clipper when he was 10 years old, Stahle said. His first job was running the linotype. By age 11 he was laying the paper out and at 12 he was running the press.
“It was an art,” Stahle said, explaining the sheets of paper ran through the press one sheet at a time, and the press operator had to know just when to put the paper through
Now, the Clipper is printed on a web press using rolls, at the rate of 40,000 prints per hour. Newer presses can run as fast as 100,000 prints per hour, Stahle said.
In 1969, Stahle struck out on his own, opening Spectrum Press, a printing firm. Competition was fierce and many original jobs were lost to other firms. The University of Utah’s Chronicle student newspaper was among jobs he retained in those early days. He also secured the printing job for Smith’s Food and Drug. The contracts kept him busy running from Riverdale (where Smith’s had its advertising department at the time) to Salt Lake City, he said.
In 1972 Stahle bought the Southern Utah Press Advertiser and started a daily paper in St. George called the Spectrum. It continues but under new ownership.
Meanwhile, the Clipper is still published once a week, although advertising has dipped and more readers are getting their news via the Internet.
Stahle owns a newspaper in Cedar City, Iron County Today, which is growing in advertising and readership, Stahle said. Its success can be attributed to Cedar City being more rural, without substantial competition from daily newspapers.
Spectrum Press continues. During the 2002 Olympics, it produced a daily glossy magazine for Sports Illustrated.