The San Mateo Times was founded as a weekly on April 4, 1901, and passed through a series of owners until Sept. 19, 1918, when Horace Amphlett, who already had been associate editor and business manager of the paper for a year, acquired ownership.
On June 2, 1924, he converted it into a daily. Then in January 1926, Amphlett bought the Daily News-Leader, also published in San Mateo, and consolidated operations into a recognized and respected force on the peninsula. His journalistic credo is one that might be emulated with impunity by any worthwhile publication. Set forth in one of his many fine editorials it read in part:
“A newspaper which exists merely as a business institution to the profit alone of its owner is false to its trust. Only such newspapers as fill a definite need in the community, supporting its institutions, safeguarding its interests and protecting its character abroad can hope to endure. Newspapers are quasi-public institutions. They belong partly to the public, irrespective of where their legal ownership falls, if they are faithful to their purpose. “A good newspaper is not always right but it is always sincere. Its stand on issues is not taken from personal prejudice or haphazard opinion but only after mature reflection and deep deliberation has convinced the editor of the wisdom of its course. For that reason newspapers err far more rarely than the individual.”
Adhering to these principles, Amphlett’s voice, heard via the printed word, was recognized as honest and unbiased, and, therefore, commanded attention and respect. Amphlett’s friends were legion, including four governors of California and a corps of coworkers, who not only admired him but found him exceedingly likeable. A popular, magnetic speaker, he often was in demand at fraternal events as well as important cultural affairs.
Amphlett’s strong and consistent advocacy and influence were prime and indispensable factors in bringing to fruition many a worthwhile undertaking and enterprise in regard to the welfare and progress of his community, the Bay Area and the state. His platform, regularly carried in the editorial page of the Times, bespoke his abiding interest and concern for the prosperity and happiness of the population. Amphlett was director of the San Mateo- Hayward Bridge Authority and is generally credited with having promoted the construction of that important span linking San Mateo County with the East Bay.
Although urged to, he never held office. Nevertheless, he often was consulted on the affairs of his city. As Aylett R. Cotton, onetime mayor, and other dignitaries agreed, his advice and counsel, always generously and sympathetically given, was of immeasurable assistance. Virtually every important activity in San Mateo or the county in general regarded his help necessary to success. And he gave his time without thought of personal gain and often without the least public recognition.
Amphlett was a director of the San Mateo branch of the Bank of America and chair of the San Mateo County Republican Central Committee for many years.
His affiliations numbered the San Mateo Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus, the Peninsula Club, and in San Francisco, the Press Club and The Family Club. He was active in the Elks, serving as Exalted Ruler of San Mateo Lodge No. 1112 and District Deputy Ruler, also serving as secretary to the National Grand Exalted Ruler. He was a Philharmonic Society of San Mateo County patron, a Friends of Music member, and the San Mateo Preventorium director. The San Mateo Times remained in the Amphlett family for 78 years. In 1996, it was sold to MediaNews Group. The newspaper remains in publication as the San Mateo County Times.
*Hall of Fame inductees are selected annually by a committee appointed by the California Press Foundation. They recognize career achievements of weekly and daily publishers in California who were important and influential in their era, as judged by their peers in the association. The write-ups are a historical and journalistic snapshot in time and not official biographies.*