The Guam News Letter, and its later evolution, the Guam Recorder were the first two regularly printed Guam newspaper publications.
The Guam News Letter, published by the US Navy Government from February 1909 to March 1922, was intended as a monthly publication that included reports about the naval government and the military community, some local events and international news. There were some months when the newsletter went unpublished. From the June 1914 issue onward until its demise, the newsletter published vital statistics (births, deaths and marriages) that were recorded in the Office of the Civil Register during the previous month.
The Guam Recorder, published from March 1924 until November 1941, was originally owned by William Rowley who sold it to the Naval Government of Guam in 1933. It was a monthly news and information publication that also included Guam vital statistics. The Guam Recorder ceased publication after its November 1941 issue due to World War II when the Japanese took over the island. (After thirty years, the University of Guam Micronesian Area Research Center tried to revive the Recorder in 1971.) Towards the end of 1945, after the Americans recaptured Guam, the navy began publishing a daily Guam edition of the Navy News, which included little local news despite its masthead; “Crossroads of the Pacific.” The paper became the Guam News in 1947.
In 1949, Joseph Flores, a Chamorro, bought the Guam News from the navy and renamed it the Guam Daily News. In 1917, Flores joined the US Navy and later lived in San Francisco where he was the publisher of weekly newspaper South of Market Street Tribune. After World War II, Flores returned to Guam and bought the newspaper from the navy and in 1950 began printing in a large Quonset hut located in the post-war village of Agana Heights. Under Flores’ direction the Guam Daily News and its Sunday counterpart, the Territorial Sun, became the island’s main newspaper.
When the navy newspaper went up for sale Flores, who had recently returned to Guam, made a bid. Although Flores was not the highest bidder, the navy and the appointed Guam naval governor, Carlton Skinner, found Flores the best candidate and most likely to use the newspaper to benefit the island. His newspaper experience was also a factor in his selection.
Hawaii businessman Chinn Ho, who had bought the Hawai’i-based newspaper the Star Bulletin in 1961, bought the the Guam Daily News in 1970 for $1.2 million. He sold both papers a year later to media company Gannett. The publication is now the Pacific Daily News. For a short period in the mid-1970s, the paper’s management also put out a daily afternoon newspaper called Dateline.
Because of Guam’s location and strategic importance, the US Department of Defense saw fit to distribute its military news publication Stars and Stripes locally beginning in 1945 and continuing in to the present. The Stars and Stripes has European and Pacific editions. The Pacific edition is a daily newspaper printed in Japan that includes information from major news services and Stripes news bureaus and deployed reporters and photographers. The publication has periodically operated a Guam news bureau, most recently from 1990 until 2002. Most recently, in 2008, Stars and Stripes began publishing an online website for its Guam edition.
In 1945 the Catholic church’s Guam diocese under the direction of Bishop Apollinoris Baumgartner also began to publish a bi-lingual (though primarily English language) weekly, the Umatuna si Yu’us, which continues to serve the community, now under the name The Pacific Voice.
Not all newspaper start-ups on Guam were successful. In 1966, a large group of investors from prominent Guam business families, including members of the Calvo, Bordallo, Martinez, Jones and Butler clans, created American Enterprises, and launched an afternoon paper, the Pacific Journal. The publication folded a few years later, unable to build a viable advertising/readership base in the shadow of the established Pacific Daily News.
There have been a number of monthly magazines published on Guam since the Guam Recorder, including Pacific Profiles, a monthly magazine published by former senator and Guam historian Tony Palomo. The magazine ran from 1963 until 1965, carrying articles on Guam history and local military affairs, until Palomo was elected to the Guam Legislature and he was unable to devote the time needed to continue the publication. Other monthly magazines of note, some still with us and some no longer in print, include Glimpses of Guam, Hafa, Latte, Guahan, GU, and Directions.
Guam businessman Manuel Jose also started a Guam newspaper in 1964, originally called the Guam Times Weekly, later shortened to the Guam Times, and introduced the community to local political cartoons before returning to his core businesses. Another Guam businessman, Mark Pangilinan, started the Guam Tribune in 1979 as a daily newspaper with emphasis on investigative reporting and as an alternative daily to the Pacific Daily News. The Tribune existed in this format for about ten years, after which it became the Guam Shoppers Guide. Pangilinan finally suspended operations in 1997 when Supertyphoon Paka dealt a major blow to the operation’s machinery, equipment and building.
As Guam’s international community has grown, other-than-English-language publications have been started. The Japanese, Chinese and Korean communities each have a weekly or monthly paper or magazine. The weekly Guam Shinbun was started in April 1986 by Leo Okamura, and continues to be distributed locally to Japanese residents and to Japanese tourists, who account for about 90 percent of the island’s visitors. The paper includes news and community information, and advertising.
The U.S. Navy and Air Force on Guam both had separate weekly newspapers for their personnel. The Navigator and The Pacific Edge were published by Guam Publications, Inc. which is parent company of the Pacific Daily News. As of 2009, those two publications ceased and Guam Publications, Inc. publishes Joint Region Edge, a military publication for overseas members of the U.S. military and their families. This change reflects a new management approach where all branches of the military in the region are jointly managed.
The daily Marianas Variety – Guam edition, is the most recent addition to local newsstands. Saipan publisher Abed Younis began Guam distribution of his Saipan publication, Marianas Variety, in 1998. In 2000, Younis began distribution of the Guam Variety, but publication was stopped in 2002 and distribution of the Saipan paper was resumed. In 2004, Younis’ Guam corporation began publication of the Marianas Variety -Guam edition.
By Donovan Brooks
For further reading
Rogers, Robert F. Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawai`’i, 1995.
Sanchez, Pedro C. Guahan Guam: The History of Our Island. “Hagåtña: Sanchez Publishing House, c. 1988.
Guahan Magazine (accessed August 4, 2010).
Guam Business Magazine (accessed August 4, 2010).
Marianas Business Journal (accessed August 4, 2010).
Marianas Variety – Guam Edition (accessed August 4, 2010).
Pacific Daily News (accessed August 4, 2010).
Pacific Edge (accessed August 4, 2010).
Stripes Guam (accessed August 4, 2010).