by Bill Boyle
More than 100 years ago this week, on September 29, 1915, an ambitious young man by the name of Oscar W McConkie published the first issue of the San Juan Record.
Since then, through thick and thin, the paper has not missed a week reporting the events in this spectacular corner of the world.
Much has changed in the past 103 years, both in San Juan County and in the world of journalism.
Now, even though we send copies of the paper to readers near and far, the vast majority of our readership is electronic. Even more changes and adjustments are in our future.
Back in 1915, because of a debilitating eye condition, McConkie was forced to drop out of law school at the University of Michigan.
He moved his family from the comfort and prestige of Ann Arbor to the frontier in San Juan County. His family included a young son, Bruce R., who was just a few weeks old when they moved.
Despite the fact that the McConkie family, the San Juan Record, and San Juan County faced an uncertain future back in 1915, the new Editor was brimming with confidence and enthusiasm
I often refer to that first issue of the paper printed 103 years ago this week.
On the front page, McConkie outlines the policy of the paper. The goals he outlined back then still resonate today.
Read the first Editorial below. I still hope to hold to the standards he outlines.
In Regards To Our Policy:
EVERY INSTITUTION, worthy of our consideration, whatever its name, and wherever its field of effort, is governed by certain fixed and definite principles. These rules of conduct are to the organization what, in the individual, is called character.
Here then, in the genesis of the San Juan Record, in the introductory statement of the new Editor of a new paper, it may be well to write down some of the beliefs and tenets, and aims that will govern our future course.
First of all the Record hopes to be independent. In the country, where there are so many interests common to all, we have an abiding conviction that the newspaper should be answerable not to any particular clique or faction, but to the people as a whole.
The Record will not be sectional. Every development in any part of San Juan county is a benefit either direct or indirect, to every other part. No section of the county should be arrayed against any other section. The Record will use its influence to promote general harmony and concerted effort for community betterment.
The Record will not be a crusader. It has no grudges to satisfy or scores to settle, so will not engage in the interesting but unprofitable pastime of bumping heads – either on its own behalf or on behalf of others. True, should occasion clearly and insistently demand, we shall not hesitate to criticise, but we conceive our work to be constructive.
The great need of San Juan County is people and development – not better people, or better development, but more people and more development.
Notwithstanding the great progress that has been made in the past, San Juan County still has lying dormant in its vast development resources literally million of dollars of wealth that are as useless as a miser’s hoarded gold. The business that confronts the people of San Juan is putting this wealth out at interest; capitalizing these resources and making them producers of dividends.
In this work the Record can help, perhaps more effectively than can any individual or any other organization.
Nor is it alone along financial lines that a newspaper is a power for good in any community. If we would draw the fangs of vicious amusements, we must provide in their stead innocent and uplifting entertainment. To foster and encourage these, as well as every other thing that is of public benefit, is one of the very reasons for a newspaper’s existence.
The time has come when public interest demands that the story of San Juan’s development and possibilities should be written and sent broadcast every week of every year. To meet this demand the Record is established.
The Editor can conceive of no more desirable or beneficial employment than that of helping to promote the development and writing the history of the growth of one of the great counties of a great state.
OSCAR W. McCONKIE
– September 29, 1915