Publishers point to suit as a milestone

— In 2000, as The Chronicle was preparing to celebrate 90 years of publishing, three former owner-publishers got together to reflect on milestones and named the Goldmark trial as the defining story in The Chronicle’s publication history.

The three – Mary Koch, John E. Andrist and Merilynn Wilson — reminisced about the “big” stories. The Wilsons and Andrist are now deceased.

But back in 2000, Merilynn Wilson and Andrist agreed that one story towered over everything else: the Goldmark trial of 1963-64.

In Koch’s words, written in 2000:

It was a larger-than-life event, a story of underlying conflicts in which the truths that emerged were greater than the facts.

On trial was the anti-Communist paranoia of the times.

Paranoia, when examined by an Okanogan County jury, lost.

It was a time of “constant excitement,” Merilynn Wilson recalled, a huge story for a tiny weekly newspaper to cover. The county courthouse teemed with what she called “big shot” reporters and celebrity witnesses.

The trial was a watershed event for The Chronicle, indelibly changing how it did its job, broadening the scope of its news reporting.

Okanogan County had many small community newspapers, each focusing on its own town and immediate surroundings. Missing was a county-wide newspaper to report on the larger events of the region.

The Chronicle grew to fill that niche. News coverage expanded, and circulation more than doubled despite relatively slow population growth.

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