The Chino Champion, along with the Chino Hills Champion, is a weekly newspaper serving the Chino Valley area of Southern California. The Champion is a legally adjudicated general interest newspaper publishing local Chino Valley news and advertising.
The Champion publishes every Saturday morning and is zoned into Chino and Chino Hills editions to meet the needs of the residents of both cities. The newspaper is delivered by carriers and by mail to subscribers and others reaching over ninety percent of Chino Valley homes. Copies are additionally available for sale at newsstands and stores throughout the Chino Valley.
Richard Gird, the founder of the City of Chino, additionally founded the Champion in 1887. John Wasson, the first editor, put out the first issue of the Champion Valley Champion on Nov. 11, 1887. Wasson later wrote, "The first number appeared before there was but one dwelling north of Chino Creek, and only four or five additional buildings, including barns." Mr. Wasson ran 600 to 2000 copies a week. This was tough work, because each piece of type had to be set by hand. Two pages were printed at a time on a foot-powered press.
On the Champion's tenth birthday, its second owner and publisher, Edwin Rhodes, wrote, "it is a veritable fact that in the case of Chino a newspaper was started and the town built around it."
After Rhodes sold the Champion in 1906 to become a banker, two important changes were made. "Valley" was dropped from the title and an electric motor was hooked up to the 13x19 Peerless Press, taking advantage of the electrification of the town.
Ralph Homan, who operated a local store with his father, bought the newspaper in 1909. He installed a new Babcock flatbed press and brought in automatic typesetting equipment that took much of the labour out of the production.
In 1920, Homan went into law, selling to a Nebraska newspaperman, Elmer Howell Sr. Howell was later joined by his brother-in-law, Charles Frady, and then by nephew E.R. (Bob) Frady, who was the editor until 1949. The Champion published twice a week in the 1920s.
Between 1949 and 1956, the Champion had three sets of publishers. A larger flatbed press, called a No. 1 Meihle, was purchased.
In 1956, Allen P. McCombs came to town, right out of navy service. The young college-educated outsider from Berkeley completed 50 years as editor and publisher on October 1, 2006. In 1958, a weekly Shopping News was published on Wednesday and sent to non-subscribers. The Champion continued to publish on Thursday. The need for speedier printing led to the purchase of a used roll-fed Duplex press that printed and folded eight pages at once. During the 1960s, to keep up with trends in the newspaper industry, the Champion converted from "hot type" to offset. By 1970, the Duplex had been scrapped and the printing was "farmed out" to a larger printing firm in Riverside.
Less than a year later two-thirds of the building was gutted by fire, started by a Molotov cocktail thrown throughout a period of ethnic strife. The Champion continued publication from temporary quarters until a fast-working local contractor had the building repaired four months later.
The community was doubling in population every 10 years. The opening of the Pomona Freeway brought new business. In 1972, the Chino Valley News was put out on Wednesday and sent to everybody. The paid-subscription Champion was moved to Friday. In 1978, the South Ontario News was started, and in 1980, a Sunday Champion was published, but it lasted only eight months. In 1988, the Chino Hills News was added, three years before the new city incorporated.
The disappearance of the hometown weekly from the Southern California scene led the Champion to strengthen its position. On August 4, 1994, the Champion combined its paid and free newspapers into the once a week Chino and Chino Hills editions, distributed on Thursday to everybody.
This delivery was changed to Saturday in 1999 to accommodate a new classified ad linkup with the Press Enterprise of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which was now printing the Champion.
In 2000, Bruce M. Wood, a former Champion general manager, returned as co-publisher. By 2002, the Champion had grown significantly in advertising and income.
The prepress production of the Champion evolved again in July 2004 when it converted to digital pagination. Over a period of several weeks, the Champion converted to digital output of pages using computers and new software and delivered them electronically to the printer with a high speed internet connection.
Due to press capacity limitations, the printing of the Champion was switched from the Press-Enterprise to the San Bernardino Sun/USA Today printing facility in April 2005. This allowed for an increase in the use of full colour photography in the presentation of news and advertising. Total circulation had reached nearly 42,800 homes by October 2006.
On October 7, 2006, McCombs announced he had named his co-publisher, Bruce Wood, as publisher of Champion Newspapers. He would be stepping down as publisher after 50 years. He would remain active in the newspaper, however, as Publisher Emeritus and Chairman of Champion Publications of Chino, Inc., the parent company. He commented that "Mr. Wood has the desire to continue the concept of local control and community service that this newspaper has had after its founding by Richard Gird in 1887."
On July 7, 2012 the Champion returned to the Riverside Press-Enterprise to be printed after they worked at winning back the contract. Coincidentally, the San Bernardino Sun closed their printing facility shortly thereafter and moved their printing to the Orange County Register.
The Champion is one of the few independent weekly newspapers left in Southern California, and one of the largest. As a result, Chino Valley is one of the few communities to have a hometown newspaper devoted to local news and community affairs, a situation that was widespread forty years ago.