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Local News and Advertising

As trusted local news sources for over a century, The Gustine Press-Standard and The West Side Index, along with their companion publication, the Tuesday Review, offer local community news journalism and advertising to thousands of print and online readers across the West Side.

With a distribution territory stretching from Santa Nella to Crows Landing, including the communities of Gustine and Newman, Westside Connect offers the broadest market coverage on the West Side and the best value for your advertising dollar.

All three publications are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service so readers receive them inside their homes with other important mail.

At Westside Connect, we are proud of the tradition and the inspiration our publications bring into homes every week.

News which graces the front pages of The Gustine Press-Standard and The West Side Index reflects the commitment to our communities. Births, local clubs and community organization news, school news and sports are all a part of our weekly coverage.

We also bring the “hard news” stories to our readers, those concerning government, schools, police reports and other controversies. As our communities continue to grow, we pledge to keep pace and provide content that enriches the lives of our local readers.


The West Side Index

The West Side Index, one of the most highly-regarded community newspapers in the state of California, was founded in 1890 by Innis Sturgeon, who went into the publishing business with partner T.C Duffy after the duo had failed in a previous enterprise as painting contractors. The Index was Newman's second newspaper, and it managed to survive despite tight financial constraints. At the time, Newman was also home to The Newman Tribune, a publication founded by Bert Eachus in 1888, the year Newman itself was established. The Tribune folded several years later, leaving the Index as the sole newspaper in the young city.

It was during Sturgeon's tenure that the Index first moved to a different location: from the west side of O Street to a small wood-framed building on O Street. Turn-of-the-century readers could subscribe to The Index for $2 a year, $1 for six months or 50 cents for three months. A commitment to local news and community service, which has remained strong throughout the history of The Index, was reflected in the mottos used by Sturgeon. They included "Our Readers get the Local News", "We Courteously Reply to all Inquiries from Advertisers", "Our Advertisers get the Local Trade" and "A Home Paper for Home People".

Sturgeon, the son of prominent pioneer rancher Ed Sturgeon, succumbed to pneumonia in July 1903. Duffy continued publishing the newspaper before selling to Alvin Fleharty in November of that year. Fleharty went on to record the longest tenure of any Index publisher to date, keeping the newspaper for some 33 years. His weekly column, "Yesterday and the Day Before", became the publisher's trademark for being the first to offer readers his insights. The column appeared on the front page of each issue, and mixed Fleharty's stinging commentary with a witty outlook on the day's happenings, but in a way that kept the publisher free of rebuttals from his faithful readers.

Fleharty moved The Index offices three times during his tenure - including one change of locale due to a devastating fire. The blaze broke out July 4, 1905, in the O Street office, quickly demolishing the office and the newspaper files from the early years of the Index. Boys playing with firecrackers were believed to have started the Independence Day blaze.

On July 28, the paper set up shop in a new building, hastily constructed in the wake of the blaze. The Index moved again in 1917, into an office at the corner of Fresno and O Streets, where it remained for more than a decade before moving to its present location at 1021 Fresno St, in 1929. Fleharty liked to point out that the new building was supposedly fireproof.

Crows Landing businessman Frank McGinnis purchased the Index in 1936, trading his coal, ice and feed business for a career in newspapering, becoming the publication's third publisher. McGinnis brought to The Index a more conservative approach that was reflected in the paper's coverage. Unlike his predecessor Fleharty, McGinnis avoided controversial topics and often chose to write of such things as holidays and the weather

In 1959, McGinnis sold The Index to his son, William McGinnis, who published The Index for 18 years before selling the newspaper to Newman native William H. Mattos in 1976. During his tenure, The Index made the quantum leap from letterpress to offset publishing, a major technological change. Instead of heavy metal mats and massive linotype machines were computerized typesetting systems which created the newspaper on paper rather than in row upon row of typecast characters. However, the change also marked an end to local printing of The Index. And it would be almost 40 years until the publication would be locally-printed again.

In the early 1990s, the newspaper made another major advancement with the switch to Macintosh-based desktop publishing systems. Susan Mattos took over as the sixth publisher in 2005 and ushered in a new era of growth and advancement for the publication and its sister paper in Gustine. 

The paper was purchased in 2021 by Hank and Kelly Vander Veen, publishers of community newspapers in the Central Valley in the communities of Turlock, Ceres, Oakdale, Riverbank, Escalon, Manteca and Ripon, as well as 209 Magazine.


The Gustine Press-Standard

The oldest business in Gustine, in continuous operation, is our community newspaper, The Gustine Press-Standard. Founded as the Gustine Standard, the publication published its first issue on Nov. 4, 1910, under the guidance of Publisher William C. Perry. The mast proclaimed that the Gustine Standard was "A Standard Paper for an Above Standard Community."

For the first five months, the paper was apparently published upstairs in the Miller and Lux Building, where Pioneer Drug is now located, and touched on many of the same news topics to be found in a typical issue of today's paper. The headline for the second issue proclaimed, "Gustine to have branch library." A week later the story was headlined, "Irrigators will hold next meeting here."

The Standard followed by one year the short-lived Gustine News. When just three weeks old, the Standard wanted to know "whether or not it expected to pay for the alleged sins of its predecessor, the defunct Gustine News." The publisher had been out selling subscriptions and evidently had encountered some resistance or distrust.

The Standard reportedly moved from its original location to the Johnson-Ames Building, located "near the hall of justice, west of the railroad" in 1913. Around 1915 the paper moved yet again to the McLaughlin Building, on the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Third Avenue -- but not before the office site was used as the first home for Gustine High School in 1913. The McLaughlin building was eventually torn down and a new building built in 1948 by Luther Headings at a cost of $15,000. The Standard would remain in that building until 1987, when it moved down the street to 461 Fifth Street. "We are pleased to be able to have relocated The Gustine Standard office in this new location," then general manager John Sheilds said in an interview at the time.

The Gustine Standard went through a number of ownership changes over the years, with the last owner being the Lesher family of Merced County, who owned several newspapers throughout the region including the defunct Newman News. In 1990 the paper merged with the Gustine Press, which was started in 1984 by Mattos Newspapers, Inc. as a competitor to the Standard. The paper became the Gustine Press-Standard, which remains the name it is published under to this day.

The Gustine Press-Standard, along with sister publication, The West Side Index, was purchased in 2021 by Hank and Kelly Vander Veen, publishers of community newspapers in the Central Valley in the communities of Turlock, Ceres, Oakdale, Riverbank, Escalon, Manteca and Ripon, as well as 209 Magazine.