Chuck Doud was a believer
Wendy Alexander//The Madera Tribune
2018 Lifetime Acheivement Award recipient Bill Coate, center, is joined by Madera Tribune publisher Chuck Doud and Annette Kwock of the Madera Chamber of Commerce after receiving the award. Doud delivered an introduction speech honoring Coate.
By now, most of our readers know that Chuck Doud, the publisher of The Madera Tribune passed away last week. The outpouring of sorrow from our community is palpable, and this writer joins those who are mourning the loss of the man who was hired to come here as editor of The Tribune and wound up buying the paper.
I remember when he arrived; I was doing what I have done for The Tribune since 1992 — writing pieces of local history.
Chuck wasn’t here very long before he made a real impression on me. When he found out that I wasn’t being paid for my writing, he insisted, as a matter of principle, that the publisher remunerate me for my columns. That got my attention, and I began to spend some time in his office. We soon became friends.
I can’t remember exactly when he decided to purchase The Tribune, but I remember the day I found out. I was in the newsroom one afternoon, and he asked me to step outside with him. We went out the E Street entrance and closed the door. He turned to me, obviously excited, and said he was giving serious thoughts to buying the paper.
Not too long after that, it was a done deal. He lined up some investors and moved from the editor’s office to the publisher’s chair.
Chuck Doud quickly embraced Madera, and Madera embraced him. In doing so, he picked up the mantle left by The Tribune’s Publisher Emeritus, Les Hayes. Like Les, Chuck developed a paternal interest in his new hometown. He and his wife, Annette, became involved; they were joiners. They became members of service clubs, churches, the arts council, and a host of other connections to the community. What emerged for folks to see was a man who was gentle and mild, yet strong and optimistic — eternally optimistic.
Since Chuck’s passing, I have been thinking about his optimism. He wasn’t Pollyannaish, but he was supremely confident about the future of Madera and The Madera Tribune.
In 2012, John Malos, former news anchor for Channel 26, sat down with Chuck for a lengthy interview. They talked about a lot of things, all of them set against Chuck’s optimism.
At the time of the interview, The Tribune had 26 full time employees, 7 part-time employees, several correspondents, and the carriers. The Tribune contributed to the living of 54 people and the local economy in general.
One item that interested Malos was the fate of newspapers in the face of serious competition from the electronic media. Would the print media survive the Internet? Chuck didn’t bat an eye in answering his inquisitor.
“John,” he said, “newspapers survived radio; newspapers survived television. They will skillfully figure out how to use the Internet as a tool — to do what they know how to do, which is to print newspapers. And they will grow.
“All you have to do is look at history,” Chuck said. “When radio came along, newspaper circulation went down and came back up; when television came along, all the publishers were slitting their wrist, and jumping out of their office windows. Newspaper circulation went down and came back up.
“So now you’re going to see it happen again. If the newspaper publishers will just be patient and allow themselves to learn from this experience as they learned from radio and television, they’re going to prosper and their going to grow,” Chuck maintained.
That brought Malos to what I think was his prime curiosity. He asked, “Why did you buy the paper?”
With tongue in cheek, Chuck replied, “I didn’t want to work for a living. A fellow once told me the newspaper business is the only way you can have fun and get paid for it without taking your clothes off.” Then he got serious.
“I really, really like the newspaper business,” he said, “and the people who are in it really, really like it.
It was a growing business. I wouldn’t have started it from scratch. It would have been too expensive for me, but it was a growing business when we bought it,” said Chuck.
He was optimistic in 2012. He had been optimistic in 2003, and he remained optimistic, even when the erosion of his advertising revenue forced him to turn The Tribune from a daily to a bi-weekly newspaper.
He also remained optimistic about Madera’s desire for a local newspaper, and I believe he was right. That’s why I think The Madera Tribune will continue Chuck Doud’s vision of a community chronicle as it tries to move forward in the face of his passing.