Dana McGaugh

Dana McGaugh

Dana McGaugh was hired as the first editor of The Independent. Subsequent editors have been Pete Winslow, Peter Carey, Andrew McGall, Robert Several and Janet Armantrout.

In the first edition, dated September 22, 1963, it was noted that one of the goals of the editorial department would be the presentation of major news stories in greater depth, with careful attention to the background and meaning of the stories.

Responsibility for operation of the news department fell to its editor, Dana O. McGaugh, and the women's editor, Pamela Myers, who doubled as production manager.

McGaugh brought to the editorial desk 19 years of newspaper experience as reporter, editor and publisher.

His newspaper experience included nearly two years as managing editor of the San Leandro Morning News, where newspapers produced under his supervision in 1962 won four major awards given by the California Newspaper Publishers Association at the 1963 annual convention - the greatest number received by any California newspaper for 1962.

By 1957, his coverage of the Santa Clara city government while serving as assistant publisher of the Santa Clara Journal earned him an official resolution by the city council commending him for the most complete and accurate coverage city affairs had received from a newspaper.

In a 1975 issue of the Valley Times, the reporter quotes Seppala as saying that it was Dana who pointed out that most papers have problems in that advertisers, who provide the economic basis of a paper, are the ones who can also end up deciding what is good for the area.

Looking back, she notes that it was McGaugh who ingrained in The Independent staff the journalism principles that the paper has followed for fifty years. Editorial decisions are made based on what benefits the community as a whole. Pressure from advertisers is not factored in.

Seppala recalls other aspects of her relationship with McGaugh. In putting the paper to bed on Tuesdays, McGaugh would often deal with the stress by threatening to quit in a voice that carried throughout the office. One of his former publishers recounted that employing McGaugh was like placing a Roman candle on his desk. Seppala decided that despite his explosive nature, McGaugh’s brilliant news coverage and values were worth the Tuesday fireworks.

McGaugh stayed at The Independent for approximately three years, when he died of a heart attack castigating members of a city commission whom he believed were in the wrong. Seppala notes, “His crusading spirit made a lasting impression on all of us.”