Written by Jen Finn
Mr. Smith's mission
We have an enduring and loyal readership, so this may not be news to some of you, but I feel it's appropriate to put it out there in National Fisherman's 50th anniversary issue.
Twenty years ago, in the occasion of its 30th anniversary, the editors saw fit to quote C. Owen Smith, who launched Maine Coast Fisherman in 1946.
"The fishing business in all of its ramifications," he wrote in its inaugural issue, outlining the magazine's scope; "the production of byproducts and boatbuilding which are natural to the coast and belong here.
"We want to see these natural industries prosper and will do all we can to publicize and promote them."
I refer to Smith's words today for the same reason the editors referred to them in 1990: they eloquently define the mission.
Rusty Brace of Journal Publications in Camden, Maine, succeeded Smith as editor in 1960 and acquired National Fisherman, a 20-page New Hampshire-based magazine, as well as the rights to the name Atlantic Fisherman.
And so was born National Fisherman combined with Maine Coast Fisherman, a moniker a former newspaper editor of mine would have referred to as "a meal."
The magazine expanded its coverage throughout the 1960s, and in 1966 Journal Publications acquired Pacific Fisherman and put its editor, Dick Phillips, to work running the West Coast office.
NF was truly national, and so it has remained.
Much has changed in the intervening years: the Fisherman, as many refer to it, evolved in aspect from newspaper to magazine; in appearance, from black and white to color; and in perspective, with the recognition that our overarching mission as a nation must be sustaining marine resources.
Some things remain the same. We strive to keep people at the center of our coverage, much as Mr. Smith did with columns devoted to lighthouse keepers, fish wardens, and other folks whose lives, like fishermen's, are woven into the fabric of coastal communities.
And of course, there is Perc Sane. He was not here in 1960, but he was three years later and has been ever since, reporting from Saturday Cove, smoking his pipe and keeping a weather eye on Shorty Gage, Bubba Beal and company.
Last but not least is ownership. The Hildreth family acquired Journal Publications in 1970. In an era in which magazine publishers make news through consolidation, divestment, and public lamentations about declining advertising dollars and the Internet, the steady — and steadying — hand of the Hildreths and their encompassing vision enable us to focus on advancing Mr. Smith's mission.
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