Mirror’s legal battle not in vain

After 12 years in print and a year in court, the Sacramento Valley Mirror has finally been recognized as a paper of record. That means the paper can now run legal ads, which should translate to a huge increase in ad revenue for the feisty, twice-a-week paper published out of a tiny office in Artois.

Tim Crews, the Mirror’s owner, publisher and editor, said he felt vindicated by the ruling handed down last week by Glenn County Judge Donald C. Byrd. But Crews was still bitter toward Morris Multimedia, which owns the Mirror’s main competitor, Tri-Counties Newspapers, which puts out papers in Corning, Orland, Willows and Colusa. Morris had attempted to block the Mirror’s petition for adjudication by claiming that Crews was padding his subscription list. Those accusations remain unproven.

“At long last,” Crews said. “We’ve been qualified for years, it’s just that we had to fight the people with deep pockets.”

The ability to sell legal ads is a huge coup for the Mirror, as it could potentially double the paper’s ad revenue and could also increase subscriptions by as much as 30 percent. As it is, the paper barely makes enough to stay afloat, and Crews said the legal bills for the adjudication fight cost him around $20,000.

“This means good things for us,” Crews said. “It’s been a 12-year-battle. I’m jumping up and down.”

The battle for adjudication took many a strange turn, as chronicled in a CN&R cover story from July 2002. As the fight spilled from the courtroom onto the front pages of both the Mirror and the Tri-Counties papers, columnists on both sides lobbied readers hard, going so far as to make personal attacks on each other in print.

When then Managing Editor Rayce Newman of Tri-Counties Newspapers got a little too snippy with the Mirror, Crews blasted Newman, revealing his extensive criminal background and calling him a “burglar,” among other things. Newman later left the paper under a cloud.

Crews, who has received awards for his reporting and once spent several days in jail for refusing to reveal a source, recently said that journalism was “a calling” for him and lamented the increasing corporatization of the news business.

"The problem is when you apply the corporate mentality to newspapers … that’s where the sense of ethics goes kaput."