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NEWSPAPERS : Tribune Under New Ownership

March 02, 1995|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Two new owners have taken the helm at the San Marino Tribune, a 3,200-circulation community weekly that brings news of debutantes as well home burglaries to subscribers in this wealthy enclave.

In their first edition last Thursday, Pasadena resident Clifton S. Smith Jr. and San Marino resident Berkeley W. Johnston announced the purchase of the paper from Frank and Dorothy Rice. The Rices had owned the paper for 17 years before the Feb. 17 sale.

Smith, an attorney with the Los Angeles law firm of Stanwood Smith Lawyers, and Johnson, a partner in a Pasadena securities firm, are the fifth owners of the 45-cent paper since it began in 1929. The paper's purchase price was not disclosed.

"We plan to expand our community coverage, add a substantial business section and convert the paper to standard size," Smith said. "We will start four-color publication March 16."

The paper is currently printed in black and white on extra-wide newsprint.

A business editor has been hired to oversee a section that will focus on businesses owned or managed by San Marino residents, Smith said.

Smith, 43, traces his family's involvement in newspapers back to his great-grandfather, who published a Georgia weekly and was a political columnist for the Atlanta Constitution. His father, Col. C. S. Smith, published the now-defunct Herald-American chain, which had a 330,000 circulation from 1930s to the 1960s in southeast Los Angeles County. For two years, the younger Clifton Smith was co-publisher of Travels Illustrated magazine, a glossy insert for major dailies.

He said he will be centrally involved in running the paper, although he intends to retain his law practice.

In contrast, Johnston, 58, an active civic leader and ex-president of the San Marino City Club, has no previous newspaper experience. The Rices will be retained as consultants.

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