North Coast Current

Times-Advocate debuts in Valley Center, Escondido

The Times-Advocate is a new newspaper in Valley Center that debuted at the end of July. It's a familiar title in North County, as it was the name for the daily Times Advocate in Escondido, which became part of the now-closed North County Times. (North Coast Current photo)

North Coast Current

The Times-Advocate is a new newspaper in Valley Center that debuted at the end of July. It's a familiar title in North County, as it was the name for the daily Times Advocate in Escondido, which became part of the now-closed North County Times. (North Coast Current photo)

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Residents of inland North County might recognize the name of a new Valley Center newspaper — The Times-Advocate.

The original century-old daily Times Advocate of Escondido was half of the merger that created the North County Times in 1995. The North County Times was launched when the Times Advocate merged with The North County Blade-Citizen of Oceanside. The North County Times was closed in 2013 after it was bought by U-T San Diego.

The new Times-Advocate’s first edition debuted July 24.

The paper’s publisher, real estate broker Kelly Crews, declined to comment about the new publication. Two of its staff members — David Ross and Dan Kidder — formerly worked for another new newspaper in town, the Valley Center Press. Ross had previously been editor of that paper, according to past editions of the Press, and before that, the Valley Center Roadrunner. Kidder had been sports editor at the Roadrunner before joining the new Press.

The reasons for Ross’ and Kidder’s recent departure from the Press could not be confirmed.

The Times-Advocate, which first launched an Escondido-based website a year ago, is not a daily publication. It’s a community newspaper currently publishing monthly, according to an unattributed staff story on the front page. The story states that there are plans for a Times-Advocate edition in Escondido.

The story covers how the paper came to pick up the name of the former regional daily.

“When we were searching for a name that residents of both the Escondido and Valley Center areas might find appealing, it struck us that the Times-Advocate strikes the perfect note of a local and trusted news source,” the story states. “Happily, the name had fallen into the public domain, so we were able to pick it up and register it for our own use.”

A federal trademark search shows that Crews attempted to trademark the name “Escondido Times Advocate,” without a hyphen, in January 2013, around the same time Crews took out a fictitious business name of the same title with the county. The Valley Center edition was registered as a fictitious business name on June 30 under the corporate name Escondido Times Advocate.

Valley Center, like other local communities in the post-North County Times era, has seen movement by publishers to position themselves in the region’s media market.

The community’s longest-running newspaper, the Valley Center Roadrunner, sparked controversy in 2013 when its new owner outsourced production to a subsidiary in China. Its longtime editor, David Ross, quit in protest.

The publisher’s “solution to almost everything involving newspapers was to downsize and outsource — to China,” Ross wrote in a commentary on the Valley Center Press website on Sept. 7, 2013. The commentary was republished in East County Magazine. Ross wrote that the publisher had “a crew that mixes American or British journalists with some Chinese staffers for whom English isn’t necessarily their strongest language.”

In a U-T San Diego story last October, Roadrunner Publisher Eric Buskirk said the paper likely could have folded had he not bough it and that the paper’s revenue had been declining by about 50 percent. He acknowledged in the story that work had been outsourced to China.

In February, the Roadrunner announced that it ceased the outsourcing operation and instead partnered with the Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News.

The Times-Advocate’s story on its premiere front page hints at recent media tumult in the community.

“And no, you are NOT seeing double or even triple. Ross and Kidder were both involved in two other publications in town. Both of us ask your pardon for subjecting you to such confusion in such a short period of time,” the story states. “However, it was necessary if not particularly pleasant to go this route. We are both happier with our situation in this current endeavor and will both be part owners, rather than employees.”

Kidder, in a July 10 post on his blog, said that he looked forward to the latest enterprise. “I’ve moved on from the VC Press because it just didn’t work out,” he wrote. “I’m sad that it didn’t work out, but I’m excited about the next chapter with the Times-Advocate.”

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