The Sacramento Bee daily newspaper is synonymous with the history of the capital city and the region, itself. For those of us who live in Sacramento or surrounding areas, the presence of the Bee is so familiar that we might not give it a second thought anymore. But in fact, The Sacramento Bee is one of the nation’s most venerable, prolific, and trusted news publications. As a tip of our cap to say “thank you” for many decades of service, here are 20 things you probably didn't know about our beloved Sacramento Bee!
1. The Sacramento Bee was founded way back in 1857, amid the Gold Rush and California’s first widespread settling.
2. It was originally called “The Daily Bee” when the first issue was published on February 3, 1857.
3. But the paper that we now know as the paper that dominates Sacramento had some stiff competition from the start. In fact, the Sacramento Union was the established paper in town, founded six years earlier in 1851. The Union and the Bee competed for Sacramento readers until 1994, when the Union closed its doors.
4. The Sacramento Bee is now the largest newspaper in Sacramento, the fifth largest in California, and the 27th largest newspaper in the United States.
5. The Bee has a daily readership of about 553,192 and 666,458 on Sundays. Between the printed and online editions, The Bee reaches 39.5% of adults in the Sacramento region every day and 45.9% of all adults each Sunday.
6. It now has a circulation that covers from the northern Sacramento valley south to Stockton, north to Redding, east to Reno, and west to the Bay Area, spanning about 12,000 square miles!
7. An editorial in that first edition stated, “The object of this newspaper is not only independence, but permanence." After more than 150 years of publication, we can safely assume they’ve achieved both. In fact, the Bee hasn’t missed a single scheduled edition in those 150+ years of circulation!
8. The Daily Bee made a big splash on the Sacramento scene very quickly. Only four days into its inception, the paper exposed a scandal when they discovered that $200,000 in state funds was missing, leading to the impeachment of the California state treasurer.
9. An Irish immigrant named James McClatchy made his mark on The Daily Bee after coming west to California to look for gold in 1949, instead becoming the paper’s chief writer and editor and eventually owning up to half of the company.
10. James McClatchy passed away in 1883, but his two sons, (C.K.) and Valentine Stuart (V.S.) McClatchy picked up the reins to continue the family newspaper business, becoming respected journalists and owners.
11. So why is it called ‘The Bee?’ Basically, the paper promised to be as busy as a bee in working to report the news. An editorial in the very first edition read, "The name of The Bee has been adopted as being different from that of any other paper in the state and as also being emblematic of the industry which is to prevail in its every department."
Original Bee newspaperman James McClatchy used a picture of a bee on his business stationary, and in 1901, his son ordered a tile mosaic of the a bee put up in the lobby of their office at 911 Seventh St.
12. The Sacramento bee is the most prevalent publication in the stable of 30 daily and 50 non-daily papers owned by The McClatchy Company, the third largest newspaper company in the U.S. with more than 3.2 million papers hot off the presses each day.
13. Over the many decades of service, The McClatchy Company’s papers have won 73 highly esteemed Pulitzer Prizes among hundreds of other awards.
14. The Sacramento Bee won five of those Pulitzer Prizes. The first Pulitzer came in 1935 for Public Service when the Bee exposed political manipulation of the federal judiciary in Nevada, and the latest came in 2007 for gold medal photography.
15. The Sacramento Bee’s logo and namesake character is a bee called Scoopy (for a newspaper “scoop”, and was actually designed by The Walt Disney Company.
16. At the time, Disney didn’t take on outside commercial work, but Eleanor McClatchy – wife of owner James McClatchy - made a special request because she wanted a logo that would "lend personality and a familiar identity to all the products" of the company.
17. The Disney Company agreed on the condition that Eleanor donate $1500 to the Army Relief Fund and created two cartoon figures that were printed in the Bee on September 4, 1943: a bee named Scoopy (for the newspaper) and one named Gaby to represent the radio station.
18. On February 3, 2007, the Bee celebrated its 150th anniversary, commemorating the milestone by including a copy of the original edition, as well as a 120-page section about its history.
19. Throughout its history, the Sacramento Bee has distinguished itself as a champion of progressive causes, such as environmental protection and advocacy, promoting free speech, transparency and right-conduct in government, pro-unionization and worker’s rights, and anti-racism.
20. Now run by Publisher and President Cheryl Dell, The Sacramento Bee offices sit at 2100 Q St. in the building that was one the Buffalo Brewery.