The Bakersfield Californian

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Profile appeared in our 28-1 Issue – April 2011

For more than 100 years, The Bakersfield Californian has served as the much-trusted source of local news in Bakersfield and Kern County. Today, the family-run local business remains committed to chronicling the growth of a dynamic community into the 21st Century. The Bakersfield Californian is the direct descendent of Kern County’s first newspaper, The Weekly Courier, which was first published on August 18, 1866, in Havilah, California. Havilah was a small mining town about 50 miles northeast of the present site of Bakersfield. It was the center of the 1864 gold rush, which brought the first major population influx to Kern County. The newspaper’s name was later changed to The Havilah Weekly Courier.

Alfred E. Harrell

In 1872, the newspaper moved to Bakersfield and set up shop as The Kern County Weekly Courier. In 1876, the Courier merged with another Bakersfield newspaper, The Southern Californian, to form The Kern County Californian. With the advent of daily publication, the newspaper changed names to The Daily Californian in 1891. In 1897, Kern County Superintendent of Schools Alfred E. Harrell, purchased the newspaper.

Harrell gave The Bakersfield Californian its present name in 1907. In 1926, he moved the newspaper into its present location in downtown Bakersfield at 1707 Eye Street. The structure was placed on The National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation’s cultural resources worthy of preservation, in 1983. Harrell served as editor and publisher of the newspaper until his death in 1946.

Bernice Chipman, Bob Copper, Berenice Chipman Fritts Koerber

Under Harrell’s leadership as an editor and publisher, The Bakersfield Californian was recognized as one of California’s finest papers, winning over 40 state and national awards for journalistic excellence. During his almost 50 years in the newspaper business, he came to be respected as one of the best newspapermen in the country. In 1969, Harrell became the 24th person to be named to the Newspaper Hall of Fame.

After Harrell’s death, his wife, Virginia Harrell, became President of The Bakersfield Californian. She held that position until her death in 1954 when the Harrells’ daughter, Bernice Harrell Chipman, assumed the position of president. Chipman died in 1967.

Berenice Chipman Fritts Koerber, granddaughter of Harrell, was the President of The Bakersfield Californian from 1967 until her death in 1988. Through Koerber’s leadership, the company sustained strong growth and, in 1984, constructed a $21 million state-of-the-art publishing facility. This facility, Harrell-Fritts Publishing Center, is located near Meadows Field, north of downtown Bakersfield at 3700 Pegasus Drive.

When the publishing facility was completed, The Bakersfield Californian became one of the most technically-advanced newspaper companies in the United States. Included in the facility is a state-of-the-art offset press built by Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho, Ltd. of Japan. The news and advertising copy gathered at the downtown office was transmitted to the facility using an underground fiber-optic cable system, which was the first of its kind for a newspaper in the nation.

Tape Room

Ginger Moorhouse, daughter of Koerber, was elected Chairman of the Board of The Bakersfield Californian in January 1989.

She is the fourth generation owner, publisher, and chairman of the board. Also, she serves as President of The Bakersfield Californian Foundation, established to provide financial assistance to nonprofit charitable organizations in Kern County.

In 2003, Editor & Publisher Magazine named Moorhouse Publisher of the Year. During the period of 2003 and 2004, the downtown building underwent a redesign, spiffing up the lobby and reconfiguring the third floor, now the newsroom. The paper received the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for its coverage of the stabbing death of an assistant district attorney in 2004.

Over its long history, the newspaper industry has been revolutionized by technology from radio, television, the Internet, social media, etc. The Bakersfield Californian has learned to evolve with time and accept the fact that the newspaper industry isn’t what it  was 100 years ago. Even with all the changes that surround it, The Bakersfield Californian is ready to provide our community with ethical news every day.

For over 100 years, The Bakersfield Californian has evolved with the ever-changing newspaper industry so that it can continue to provide news to our community.

The award-winning Bakersfield Californian continues to exert a positive influence on our community through its investigative reporting and focusing on those people, places, and institutions that make this such a wonderful place to live.

News Room

The advent of the Internet has changed the news industry landscape forever and The Bakersfield Californian has embraced it by creating, the largest internet portal in Kern County and a dozen other websites for our community. In addition, the glossy monthly publication BakersfieldLife puts a positive spotlight on the people who make our community so special.

And while the paper chronicles the news, the family-run Bakersfield Californian Foundation yearly gives out tens of thousands of dollars to deserving local charities. It’s just another way the family says thank you to the community.

The company is re-focusing journalists on high-impact and high-interest journalism, letting its consumers be more interactive through Facebook and Twitter, and implementing self-service advertising for its small budget clients. The self-service tools are designed to help allow for better service to readers and simpler, faster, and more accurate ways for ad order processing, ad delivery, credit, billing, e-tearsheets, and more.

Ad Alley

As your community newspaper, The Bakersfield Californian offers a variety of things to appeal to all lifestyles such as our e-Edition, a digital reproduction of the print newspaper edition delivered right to your email, allowing you to connect anywhere. The newspaper puts together expos such as the Healthy Bakersfield and Taste of Home Cooking School. Throughout the year, it has special features within the paper such as the Home and Garden Show, Boat and RV, and Non-Profit Directory.

The current executive staff consists of Richard Beene, President and Chief Executive Officer; Logan Molan, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; John Wells, Senior Vice President of Revenue and Marketing; Nancy Chaffin, Vice President of Administration and Operations; John Arthur, Vice President and Executive Editor; and Michelle Hirst, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Simply put, the company is learning to better manage costs, merge operations, and form partnerships. The Bakersfield Californian is getting its proverbial ducks in a row for the future.

Its success has been based on the community and the values it has upheld for generations. Its motto is simple— “we put our customers first; we are honest and ethical; we value initiative and teamwork; we hold ourselves accountable; and we are good stewards of our community.” The Bakersfield Californian, a part of your Kern County for generations to come.

To learn more about this profiled business, please visit their website:

© 2011 - Bakersfield Magazine Inc.
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