Another year heralds another anniversary for The Tidings, first published on June 29, 1895. Since that time the paper has produced stories covering, among others, 11 popes, 21 U.S. presidents, eight bishops and archbishops who have led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in its various incarnations.
There have been 20 editors, including seven were priests (six monsignors and one bishop) 12 laymen and one laywoman — “Lady Alice” Stevens (1908-13), who introduced the editorial column “El Rodeo” and never permitted her name to be carried on the newspaper’s masthead. Since October 1996, the editorial office has been located in the Archdiocesan Catholic Center on Wilshire Boulevard, far removed from the two small upstairs rooms at 258 New High Street where the first edition of a thousand copies was produced.
Patrick Croake, the stalwart founding editor, carried the mail bag containing the copies to the post office at Main and Winston Streets. The inaugural issue had eight pages, sold for five cents and had an article advocating women’s equality. New High Street still exists on the fringe of expanding Chinatown, which in 1895 was where Union Station is today. Olvera Street (named for the city’s first superior court judge, Augustin Olvera) and La Placita (Our Lady of the Angels Church) are located nearby.
In 1895, the still-new Cathedral of St. Vibiana at Second and Main Streets anchored the cultural spine of the growing city; its capacity of 1,200 was one-tenth of the City of Los Angeles’ population. The Tidings was headquartered near St. Vibiana’s for more than 35 years, then for 17 on South Figueroa Street, and for 41 in their own building on Ninth Street (now James M. Wood Boulevard). That two-story edifice was completed on June 29, 1955 for the paper’s 60th anniversary.
During his Los Angeles visit of 1987, Pope John Paul II visited Immaculate Conception School directly across the street from The Tidings office. Msgr. Patrick Roche, who served the longest term as editor (1957-73), penned this advice shortly before his death: “People don’t remember much about what they hear or see, but they rarely forget what they read. There’s something about the written word that touches the soul.” Among many outstanding columnists were George Kramer and Mary Lanigan Healy. Kramer wrote a column called “Headlines and Deadlines” that generated more mail than other writers because of his controversial approach. Healy’s popular “Among Us” gained her the title of “everybody’s mother, sister and friend.”
Over the past 20 years, The Tidings Corp. has expanded to publish the monthly Spanish-language newspaper, Vida Nueva, and online editions of both, as well as the Orange County Catholic monthly newspaper for the Diocese of Orange (a part of the Los Angeles Archdiocese until 1976).On this anniversary, despite economic challenges and crucial periods in history, The Tidings can still boast that it is the longest continuously published Catholic newspaper on the West Coast.