A story of hope, challenge, survival

By Mark Baker | Celebrating 150 Years | |

The earliest known surviving copy of the The Guard, July 13, 1867, next to a Register-Guard front page from 2016.


By Mark Baker
For The Register-Guard

A man named William Cody was hunting buffalo in Kansas.

Nineteen-year-old Jesse James was robbing banks in Missouri.

And Wilbur Wright and Frank Lloyd Wright, builders of great things to come, were both born that year.

It was 1867, a century and a half ago, which means “Buffalo Bill,” Jesse, Wilbur and Frank are all long gone.

But something else that was born that year far out West is still here: The local newspaper, now called The Register-Guard.

In fact, you’re reading it right now, whether in its original form, paper, or quite likely on something its founder, John Brown Alexander, never could have imagined – a computer.

Or maybe on your phone, and not the kind Alexander Graham Bell was dreaming up a century and a half ago.

Like most newspapers, The Register-Guard today, 15 decades after it was born as a weekly paper called The Guard on June 1, 1867, is more than just a newspaper; it’s a “media company,” having rebranded itself RG Media Company 17 months ago.

More people now read The Register-Guard online, after all, than in print. You can’t pick up the R-G on your doorstep in Tokyo or London or Mexico City. Not the same-day edition, anyway. But you can log onto registerguard.com from anywhere on the planet.

Or you can receive “push notifications” from your RG news and Duck sports apps on your smartphone.

Need a new website for your business? RG Media’s Digital Services team can help you with that.

How, though, did The Register-Guard get from there to here? From a four-page newspaper published on Saturdays in a frontier town – and one that changed owners in the beginning as often as the University of Oregon football team has changed defensive coordinators in recent years – to a highly regarded print and online media company owned by the same family for the past nine decades?

How did it overcome depressions and recessions, increasing competition and changing marketplaces and multiple different homes, to be what it is today?

Well, it’s a story best told in 15 parts – one for each decade of its existence.

And whether you call it the “Red Guard” or the “Right Guard” or what used to run beneath its nameplate for more than half a century, “Lane County’s Home Newspaper,” you can read it all right here.

A story of hope and challenge and, ultimately, survival.

The Story of The Register-Guard.

Mark Baker, who researched and wrote the stories for this special section, is a former Register-Guard reporter and a member of the third generation of the Baker family.