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The State of Santa Clarita Media 2023: The Gazette Strikes Back
Truth is hard.
In 1998 Doug Sutton established Santa Clarita Gazette and Free Classifieds due to the limited options available for classifieds. Social media is yet to exist, and Craigslist was a new and unfamiliar platform when only 42% of American households had access to computers. Thus, if someone wanted to sell a refrigerator, their only choice was to pay for a classified ad in the newspaper or the Pennysaver. Over the years, many of the selling points of the Gazette would become obsolete, but this newspaper was the little SCV engine that could, lasting 22 years on shoestring budgets and every bigger fish trying to end them. WE RANT,
Eventually, The Gazette added an online platform in 2012, initially just publishing their classified ads but later including their articles and commentary. Sutton's column, Doug's Rants, was widely read and featured his frank opinions on various topics. In his final July 2, 2020 column, Sutton revisited how his columns mainly concerned with President Obama's economic policy. However, over time, he expanded his criticism to cover anyone he believed deserved it, including a special section dedicated to haters at the bottom of his column. Doug still writes and can be found at the unsurprisingly named blog called dougsrant.com.
In 2013, The Gazette aimed to be classified as a newspaper of general circulation in the state, allowing them to generate more revenue by publishing legal notices. However, this required them to post their legal notice in another LA County newspaper of general circulation. Unfortunately, Doug Sutton doesn't have a single f*** to give and chose to use The Signal as the newspaper of general circulation. This decision led to a three-year legal dispute, initially favoring The Signal but ultimately resulting in Mr. Sutton's victory.
Drama ensued after the Gazette's victory; the Signal, having changed owners a few months before the new regime, following the adage "If you can't beat them, join them," offered to partner up with the Gazette rather than appealing the decision. Sutton, still not having a single f***, agreed, which poked KHTS right in the eye, who responded by canceling all of Sutton's radio shows like The Gazette Radio Hour. This is why we can’t have nice things.
In 2016 The new Signal partnership and the arrival of Lee Barnathan saw the Gazette's most aggressive community reporting, writing alot of articles that other media outlets should have touched on. Although denied by Sutton, many in the community suspected that the new Signal regime was painting the targets they wanted the Gazette to hit without taking the shrapnel of those decisions. Writing can be a dangerous game, Ya’ll. Tip your writer.
Ultimately Santa Clarita Gazette and Free Classifieds would become another unnecessary casualty of the botched Covid lockdowns. They would close shop after July 3, 2020, and Sutton would choose to retire and move to a state where insane people aren’t in charge. Doug Sutton will go down in Santa Clarita history as a truth-teller without a single f*** to give; he wasn't mean, didn't sugarcoat it, and didn't always get it right, but who does? Unfortunately, Sutton's exit from Santa Clarita was a net negative for our valley and its political discord. YOU DECIDE!
We will continue to look into Santa Clarita’s media history and the challenges we face. Be sure to subscribe to stay current on the latest from Accountable SCV and consider supporting through a paid subscription.