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Oakland Tribune: The Trib Is Dead, Long Live the Tribbers

The Oakland Tribune Tower. On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake in honor of the paper's last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall

On the Oakland Tribune’s last day of publication, dozens of former employees marked the day with a trip to the top of the 1923 Tribune Tower. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Another newspaper has bit the dust. The last edition of the 150-year-old Oakland Tribune with its familiar gothic nameplate was stuffed into local news racks and tossed onto driveways around San Francisco’s East Bay on Monday morning, April 4. Twenty-four hours later, the Oakland Tribune would be no more.

It would be subsumed, along with a handful of other Bay Area newspapers, by what is now known as the East Bay Times, owned by the Bay Area Newspaper Group.

On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake in honor of the paper's last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall. Tom Henderson's businesses now occupy the Tribune Tower.

Tom Henderson was a Trib paperboy. Now his businesses occupy the Tribune Tower. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The Trib is gone. But dozens of Tribbers live on. Some have gone on to community relations jobs or in-house corporate publications. Some have retired or resorted to freelancing. Many have written books. A few, a very few, continue on as newspaper staff reporters, photographers, editors and printers.

Mourning the Oakland Tribune

Clearly, the demise of a major metropolitan daily calls for a wake. And, sure enough, emails were exchanged, and long-time sportswriter and author Dave Newhouse put an event together. Tom Henderson, a former Tribune paperboy now in possession of the old Trib Tower at 13th and Franklin in downtown Oakland, graciously opened the Tower’s doors for a tour.

It had been a while since my stint at the Tribune — 1980 to 1992 — but I wasn’t going to miss this wake.

Henderson treated us all to an elevator ride to the top of the Trib Tower. As a working stiff back in the 1980s, I’d never had the privilege of checking out the view from way

On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake at the Tribune Tavern in honor of the paper's last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall

Tribbers held a lunch-time wake for their old paper at the Tribune Tavern in honor of the paper’s last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall

Kevin Fagan, entertained on April 4, 2016, when former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake in honor of the paper's last day of publication. He's now a reporter at the SF Chroncle. Photos by Barbara Newhall Kevin Fagin, 1985-1992

Kevin Fagan, now a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, sang at lunch. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Kathy O'Toole, as the metropolitan editor of the Tribune and Eastbay Today, was first woman to head local news of major metro daily. On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, held wake for Tribune. Photos by Barbara Newhall

Kathy O’Toole, former metro editor, snapped photos from the top of the Tower. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Former employees gathered under facade overhang of Oakland, CA, Tribune bldg. On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake in honor of the paper's last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall

After lunch, Tribbers lingered under the facade overhang of the Tribune building in downtown Oakland. Photo by Barbara Newhall

up there. It was spectacular. And the old city room — where a baby had been born in the women’s room some years before my arrival at the Tribune, and where, during the ’80s, staff diversity was said to match the diversity of the city it represented — had been beautifully renovated, complete with a cushy employee lunch room. Where reporters had sweated out their deadlines at mismatched desks on rickety office chairs under dingy ceilings, office workers now enjoyed tidy cubicles and bright, industrial-chic decor.

The Tribune Tavern — Hipster Hangout

The tech boom is pushing young creatives out of San Francisco and across the Bay to Oakland these days, which means trendy restaurants are now replacing the quick and predictable sandwich shops I frequented in my Tribune days.

After our tour of the Tower, we Tribbers treated ourselves to lunch at one of the new, spiffed-up places — the Tribune Tavern. The bustling place is owned by Trib groupie

Brass and marble elevator bank at the Oakland Tribune Tower. On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake in honor of the paper's last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall

The brass and marble bank of elevators on the Tower’s first floor hadn’t changed a bit since my Trib days. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Name plate of the Oakland Tribune, with gothic lettering. On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake in honor of the paper's last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall

Neither had the familiar gothic typeface of the paper’s name plate. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Henderson, and the food is great. We former Tribune staffers might not be able to report for duty at our old newspaper any more, but at least there’s one congenial place in town that we can still call home.

Note to readers: You may have noticed that from time to time I’ll post (with permission) one of my old Oakland Tribune columns. They’re all about my days as a woman with a job, a husband, a couple of kids and a much-needed sense of humor.

Some of my favorites are: “How Much Life Is Enough? A Friend Dies,”  “Kindergarten Looms for a Five-Year-Old and His Mom” and “‘Madman’ Exposes the ’60s Girdle — But Will She Get It Off in Time?”

Downtown Oakland, CA, with the Oakland Tribune Tower. On April 4, 2016, former employees of the Oakland, California, Tribune, had a wake in honor of the paper's last day of publication. Photos by Barbara Newhall

Downtown Oakland, 13 Street. Photo by Barbara Newhall

 

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Comments

  1. Barbara Lynne (Harris) Goodman says:

    To everyone who worked in the grimy ’80s-’90s newsroom – kudos. It was a crazy place filled with memorable, smart, talented characters. Hope all my former colleagues are still creative and a little crazy. Thanks for all the great journalism and better memories.

    • Yes, our newsroom was grimy, but that never bothered me much. It’s interesting,though, that the current office workers there — call center operators — have such a clean and bright environment (though their cubicles are not super spacious), complete with a shiny lunch room. I guess that shows where the money is these days.

    • William Nessen says:

      Barbara – I am trying to get in touch with you. I am writing a book about the anti-apartheid movement at UC. My name is William Nessen

      • Hello William, I’m afraid I know nothing about the anti-apartheid movement at UC. Try contacting the folks at Pacific News Service here in the Bay Area. Also, the Daily Cal would probably have some great archives. Good luck!

  2. Very nice, Barbara. It certainly was great visiting with everyone. The special feeling of the Trib lives on in all of us

    • Kevin, there is nothing quite like a newsroom. So many interesting people, so many stories coming our way. And if we had a question about something out there in the world, all we had to do was get ourselves assigned to do a story (usually pretty easy to do), pick up the phone and start asking questions and making appointments. Definitely the good life.

  3. Jim Johnson says:

    I was so sorry to miss the wake. Barbara, I left the Trib a year before you arrived after 18 great years. Thanks for writing this blog.

  4. Janet Silver Ghent says:

    Thanks for sharing your photos and your insight. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there. We were on the East Coast for a family reunion. For years, when I passed the Tribune Tower , I would cry. But we all reinvent ourselves, moving on.
    Here is a 2014 column I wrote about a return visit to the Tribune Tower: http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/73160/the-column-printers-ink-in-my-veins/

  5. Very nice piece, Barbara. Sorry I missed the wake. I’ll miss the paper, too. Great staff, great product, incredible editors. A life-changing experience. What a time!

    • We missed you, Bill! And I’m still missing the daily dose of interesting people that I got at the Trib.

      • I moved up near Seattle just in time to see another respected paper die, the Post-Intelligencer. Like the Trib, it had a distinctive building and
        logo downtown. It’s a dying industry here, but not in Canada, where most papers are flourishing. The Toronto Globe and Mail is a real bright spot, and is perhaps the best daily in the world. Thought you could use some good news about the business.

        • Yes, I can really use some good news. I miss my old newspapers, and I’d feel less distressed about their fading away if I had some confidence that someone, somewhere was doing the deep, time-consuming reporting that (some) newspapers used to do.

  6. Dave Newhouse says:

    Barbara: Thanks for chronicling — oops! — the Tribune’s wake. It was a great reunion among Tribbies; so great that people (Kit Stier, John D’Anna) came from out of state. What made the Trib newsroom special was its camaraderie, which was still there at the end. Dave Newhouse

  7. Sharie McNamee says:

    that was a big part of your life as a writer. Sharie

  8. Kathleen Baer says:

    Dear Barbara,
    Thank you for your essay today informing me of the Oakland Tribune’s end. If he were alive, I am sure my father, Rex Adkins, would have enjoyed the wake reunion you describe as he began his newspaper career at the Oakland Tribune. It puts me in memory, as well, of our longtime family friend Teresa Cone who was the movie critic for the paper for many years. It is always very sad to learn of another newspaper’s closing.
    Best to you, Kathleen

    • Kathleen. So good to hear from you. The folks at the wake would love to have had a chance to reminisce with your father. We’ve all had many good times together over the years. We’re lucky in that respect. B

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