• U.S.

The Press: Out of the Valley

2 minute read

The San Fernando Valley (Calif.) Times turns a neat profit without benefit of comics, syndicated features, national advertising, a sports page, or even a sales price. The standard-size throwaway, 62,000 copies of which are distributed free twice a week, is not interested in World War II. Its sole interest is in telling the valley’s 200,000 residents about themselves, and playing ball with valley merchants. They pack its 40 pages with advertising (including twelve solid pages of classified ads) to the exclusion of big Los Angeles merchants. The man who perfected this successful formula now has developed two more like it.

President Clinton D. McKinnon, who is a jockey-sized little fireball with unruly black hair and bounding energy, sighted greener pastures when the valley began to swarm with “foreigners” two years ago. Neither Okies nor retired Iowa farmers, they were youngsters who had come to work in California’s war-booming aircraft industry. So McKinnon founded the Aircraft Times. Its success led him to follow it last December with the Shipyard Times.

The two weeklies (distributed free at the plant gates) merely extend McKinnon’s parochial publishing formula: they print almost nothing except news about the personal doings of shipyard and aircraft workers. Though they devote a page to intramural sports, they did not mention the World Series. Worker-correspondents contribute items and cartoons at 5¢ an inch. Some 25 mechanics, jib builders, lathe operators and the like have become columnists, complete with bylines and photographs.

But President McKinnon’s new papers, with some 150,000 circulation, have made one significant departure from his original formula. Because their readers live all over the Los Angeles area and make an aggregate $10,000,000 weekly, McKinnon accepted national advertising and ads from important Los Angeles merchants.

Los Angeles dailies belatedly awoke. Now Hearst’s papers are beckoning to war workers with a “Miss Victory” contest. His Los Angeles Examiner hired the Aircraft Times’s popular charm expert, Eleanore King, to write a syndicated women’s page feature.

No mean promoter himself, President McKinnon countered with a national Aircraft Women’s Club, whose merchandising potency so impressed Los Angeles’ big Barker Bros.’ home-furnishings store that it established six free clubhouses for chapter members. Still on the inside track, McKinnon figures that his three papers ought to considerably fatten up the $500,000 gross he made last year with only two.

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