Martin Jay Weinberger (1929-2011) knew from the fifth grade that he would be a newspaperman.
“I always knew, even as a little kid, that I would one day become the editor and publisher of my own paper,” he told a reporter in 2005.
Weinberger made good on his word. He went on to publish the Claremont Courier from 1955 to 2008.
His mission was to make and keep the Courier a “real community newspaper,” he once said. Always keenly up to date on current events not only in Claremont but in the region, the state and the nation, Weinberger kept a finger on the pulse of issues and happenings in the world-at-large but never comprised his commitment to local reporting.
“It works two ways,” Weinberger once said of newspapering. “One is you’ve got to get people interested in the community and take part in what’s happening. The other part is for them. It’s important to understand what Claremont is like, what it’s doing, where it’s going.”
To make the Courier stand out, Weinberger went with more and larger photos. He also was an early adopter of offset lithography.
Weinberger included fair and balanced reporting along with his own strong, liberal views in his “My Side of the Line” column.
Weinberger’s quest for free speech in newspapers took him out of the Courier office and into countless meetings of the California Newspaper
Publishers Association with whom he tackled issues such as freedom of the press, open meeting laws and how newspapers work with government. For his leadership as president of CNPA from 1998-99, he is widely respected, and Cal Press honored him as Executive of the Year in 2003.
Weinberger was an interesting, unforgettable newspaper guru who lived his dream, and in doing so with honesty, passion, talent, high standards and humor, left an indelible imprint on the Claremont community.
Weinberger changed lives, impacted his community, made the world a better place and spent his entire life doing what he loved, and doing it with conviction, passion, truth and integrity, and with no small amount of baseball analogies and metaphors.
“Claremont would not be the city it is today without his leadership,” son Peter Weinberger wrote in eulogy. “He was a critic, yet champion of the town that was dear to his heart. He once referred to Claremont as ‘an island of culture in a sea of slobs.’ Yeah; that was Martin Weinberger, all right.”
Martin Weinberger died July 5, 2011. He was 82.
*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.*