Founded in 1857, The Sacramento Bee is the flagship of the 30 daily and almost 50 non-daily newspapers owned by The McClatchy Company. The third-largest newspaper corporation in the country in terms of circulation, McClatchy prints more than 3.2 million papers each day, read by millions more all over the world via a covey of Web sites on the Internet.
On February 3, 2007, The McClatchy Company and The Sacramento Bee celebrated their 150th Anniversary. Over the years, McClatchy-owned papers have won hundreds of journalism awards, including 73 Pulitzer Prizes. Of that number, 15 have been coveted Gold Medals for Public Service.
The Sacramento Bee Company overview
The Sacramento Bee is the flagship newspaper of the McClatchy Co . and the largest paper in the region. Its location at 2100 Q St. was once the Buffalo Brewery and its namesake "Scoopy" was designed by Walt Disney. It was awarded its first Pulitzer Prize in 1935 for Public Service. Since that time, The Bee has won numerous awards, including five more Pulitzer Prizes, the most recent for editorial cartooning in 2016. The Bee's circulation area covers the Northern Sacramento Valley and surrounding areas: south to Stockton, north to Redding, east to Reno and west to the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bee is available seven days a week both in print and online (e-edition).
"The object of this newspaper is not only independence, but permanence."
Those words, from a Bee editorial in the paper's first edition on Feb. 3, 1857, have been the goal of five generations of the McClatchy and Maloney families - to produce a newspaper that serves the needs of its community without becoming subservient to the whims of public opinion or the pressures of the powerful.
Their success in terms of permanence is evidenced by 150 years of publishing without missing a single scheduled edition, overcoming obstacles that have ranged from floods to labor strife. Independence of voice and action came faster. Four days after its inception, The Bee exposed its first scandal -- $200,000 in missing state funds, resulting in the impeachment of the state treasurer.
The Bee's dogged coverage set the tone and established the character of our newspaper and company, first in the Sacramento community, then in the state, and eventually throughout the nation. Much of that character was drawn from an Irish immigrant named James McClatchy. A newspaperman who learned his craft under Horace Greeley at the fabled New York Tribune, McClatchy came west as part of the California Gold Rush in 1849. He never found gold, but he did found what would become an information empire.
Although McClatchy was not one of The Bee's first owners and never owned more than half the paper, he was from its inception its dominant writer and editorial guiding light. Shortly after his death in 1883, his two sons, Charles Kenny (C.K.) and Valentine Stuart (V.S.) McClatchy jointly took control of The Bee. C.K. was the editor, and became one of the nation's most respected journalists, making the paper an aggressive voice for progressive thinking during his 60-year career. V.S. was publisher, and ran the highly successful business operation until selling his half of the company to C.K. in 1923.
The descendants of C.K. McClatchy, through the children and grand children of his daughter Charlotte Maloney and son Carlos McClatchy, still own a controlling interest in the McClatchy Company.
Not long before his death in 1936, C.K. asked his youngest daughter Eleanor, an aspiring playwright, to succeed him. Eleanor would lead the company for the next 42 years. Her love for the arts, particularly the theater, was reflected in her quiet but ardent support of many community arts activities and institutions, and is continued by today's Bee, which supports a wide variety of arts programs.
In time, Eleanor McClatchy ushered in a new generation of leadership by naming her nephew, Charles Kenny (who, like her father, was also known as C.K.,) as editor in 1974. "C.K. II" spent the next 15 years guiding the company during unprecedented expansion, including taking the company into public ownership in 1988.
Over the years, The Bee's mission has not wavered from the journalistic principles first established by James McClatchy. Under his leadership, the paper led a long and ultimately successful fight to end the rapacious practice of hydraulic mining that literally destroyed mountains and ruined Central Valley watersheds. It was a leading voice against land monopoly and unfair grazing practices in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, The Bee helped usher in much-needed political reform in California by breaking the political and economic stranglehold of the railroads.
It also doggedly sought to expose corruption in government and the business world where it existed: An investigation of political manipulation of the federal judiciary in Nevada brought the newspaper the 1935 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service, making it the first California paper to win journalism's highest prize.
Almost since its birth, The Bee has been a champion for the public ownership of utilities and other vital public services. Particularly noteworthy are the The Bee's aggressive support of the decades-long fight to establish the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the paper's successful crusade for passage of massive water development plans in California in the 1930s.
The Bee's heritage as a champion of environmental protection and as a forum for social and political issues were both recognized in 1992, when the paper won two more Pulitzer Prizes - including another coveted Gold Medal for Public Service for its special report "Majesty and Tragedy: The Sierra in Peril," by environment reporter Tom Knudson. Science reporter Deborah Blum's investigation into the ethics surrounding primate research won the second Pulitzer.
The paper's commitment to the environment was recognized again with another Pulitzer Prize in 2005. This time it was for a series of editorials by associate editor Tom Philp that examined the possibility of restoring to the National Park System the once-spectacular Hetch Hetchy Valley near Yosemite from its current status as a reservoir.
Today, The Bee's innovations in news coverage and products have made it nationally known as an industry leader. The Bee published the leading local Web sites that offer users comprehensive news, entertainment and local online search capabilities.
On Sept. 4, 1943, Bee readers were greeted by two cartoon figures on Page 1. One was a bee waving a newspaper, the other a bee talking into a radio microphone. In between was a photo of world-famous animator Walt Disney.
The bees were the result of a request to Disney by Eleanor McClatchy, who was anxious "to lend personality and a familiar identity to all the products" of the company. Disney, who ordinarily did not accept outside commercial work, agreed to take on the assignment if Eleanor would donate $1,500 to the Army Relief Fund.
She agreed, and thus was born Scoopy (the newspaper bee) and Gaby (the radio bee.) Scoopy would come to adorn the front-page mastheads of all three Bee papers, while Gaby was used on radio station promotional material. Over the years, staff artists added - with Disney's approval - Flutey (for the company's FM stations,) and Teevy (for the television stations.) At least eight other variations of the character have appeared periodically over the years.
Why is it called 'The Bee'?
(Exerpted from The Sacramento Bee's Ombudsman column on March 24, 1991)
Glad you asked. It's been that since 1857 when James McClatchy founded the paper. An editorial on the first day of publication said: "The name of The Bee has been adopted as being different from that of any other paper in the state and as also being emblematic of the industry which is to prevail in its every department."
So, the promise was a paper as busy as a bee. (Quaint, but not a bad marketing strategy, I should think.)
The first James McClatchy used a picture of a bee on his business stationery. His son, C.K., ordered the image of a bee depicted in mosaic tile in the lobby of the old Bee office at 911 Seventh St. in 1901. That mosaic now is on permanent display at the Sacramento History Museum.
In 1943 James McClatchy's granddaughter, Eleanor, then president of The Bee, asked Walt Disney to create some new images of the insect to "lend personality and a familiar identity" to the papers and the company's radio stations.
Disney, who donated his $1,500 fee to the Army Relief Fund, came up with "Scoopy" for the papers and "Gaby" for the radio stations. The new logos were announced with great front-page fanfare in The Bee on Sept. 4. That evening, a 15-minute radio interview with Disney from Hollywood was broadcast on KFBK. Eventually, Scoopy drawings were created for all sorts of Bee promotions and events, and the fellow became ubiquitous around the paper.
Scoopy is the only Disney-created character allowed to "work" outside of the Walt Disney Company, and still lives today throughout the pages of The Bee. He can be seen at events throughout the community, greeting children of all ages.