The Antelope Valley Press, colloquially referred to as the Valley Press or AV Press by its staff and Antelope Valley residents, is the largest-circulation daily newspaper in Palmdale, California, United States. It has been a family-owned business since beginning as a weekly newspaper in 1915.
The Valley Press covers the fast-growing Antelope Valley, especially the Palmdale/Lancaster Urbanized Area (a US Census Bureau defined term) and adjacent areas of north Los Angeles and southeastern Kern counties, including the upscale Los Angeles urban escapes of Acton and Agua Dulce.
Other adjacent areas the Valley Press occasionally covers, particularly for aerospace related stories and local high school and college level sports, include the Victor Valley, Bakersfield and the southern San Joaquin Valley, and the Greater Los Angeles Area.
The Valley Press was founded by A.J. Hicks on Saturday, April 3, 1915 as the Palmdale Post. At the time, the Valley was home to about 3,500 people. Over the decades of the 20th century, the newspaper changed hands, and there were a few name changes as well. On May 4, 1950, the paper became known as the South Antelope Valley Press.
On July 1, 1958, four men initiated a partnership between the Markham and Odett families. Arthur F. Folz was president of the board of directors in 1958, with Ralph and his brother Maurice W. Markham as vice presidents and Lamont Odett Sr. as secretary-treasurer. Ralph H. Markham bought out Maurice W. Markham, and Lamont Odett Sr. bought out Arthur F. Folz on April 1, 1961, to create the partnership of Ralph H. Markham and Lamont Odett Sr. In October 1975, Lamont Odett Sr. died and sons Bill and Monty Odett Jr. became co-publishers. On March 1, 1981, William C. Markham joined the Odetts in daily management of the paper and was elected corporate vice president and advertising director. William C. Markham became president of the board of directors after Ralph H. Markham's death in November 1985.
The Markham family became sole owners of the Antelope Valley Press in January 1994. William C. Markham is president and publisher. The William Odett family had father William and his son Lamont ("Monty") Odett Sr. running the day-to-day operations of The Yuma Morning Sun (Now The Yuma Sun) with William's new wife Miriam as part of the team in the circa 1925 to 1935 period in Yuma, Arizona. When the Morning Sun changed ownership in 1935, the Odetts moved to the San Fernando Valley and later to Palmdale.
The paper later dropped the "South" from its nameplate to become the Antelope Valley Press by the early 1960s. It was a Thursday afternoon weekly until 1959 when a Sunday edition debuted. The Tuesday edition was added in 1969, followed by Friday (1982) and Wednesday (1988), Saturday (1992) and finally the Monday edition in 1998, making the Antelope Valley Press a full-fledged daily newspaper - perhaps the first Mojave Desert California based newspaper to commence daily publishing with morning delivery. The paper remains in family hands, and has never been corporately owned or had nonlocal ownership.
The Valley Press was famed locally from the late 1950s for its peach-colored newsprint while under the Odett/Markham family ownership. The paper stopped using peach newsprint in 1975 due to expense and the increased use of color ink.
The newspaper moved into the digital age beginning in 1986 when City Editor Bill MacKenzie was given the assignment to find a publishing system. The result of that search was the installation of a Morris Publishing System network of personal computers for both classified and editorial requirements. That classified system was replaced in 1999 with Digital Technology Internal equipment. Editorial followed in 2002 to make the paper completely paginated in one system. The classified system was upgraded in early 2005 and the editorial system will be upgraded by year's end.
The newspaper's editorial page is conservative in its political stance, and has long leaned toward the Republican Party, although this is gradually changing under its current publisher to reflect the current population and opinion trends of newer Valley residents. As a result, it will often publish two opinion pieces of opposing persuasions, side-by-side. The featured writers in them increasingly are local residents with strongly held views, which can become controversial at times.
Dennis Anderson, a former wire-service reporter, became editor of the Valley Press in 1999. In December 2010, the Los Angeles Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced that he would be one of five distinguished journalists to be honored by the chapter at its March 2011 awards banquet, representing the print under 100,000 circulation category. SPJ cited the paper as the only family-owned independent daily newspaper in Los Angeles County and the winner of six general excellence rankings from the National Newspaper Association, one from Suburban Newspapers of America and a first place Freedom of Information award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2004, SNA and the American Press Institute named Anderson Journalist of the Year for his articles, written while embedded with the California National Guard in Iraq, about local citizen soldiers. Anderson and his son, Garrett, who fought as a Marine in second battle of Fallujah, are writing a family book about Marine Corps war casualties from World War I to Iraq.
A Valley Press legacy to the motorists of the Antelope Valley, as well as California and beyond is the Antelope Valley Freeway, which Lamont "Monty" Odett, Sr., championed in dealing with California state legislators in the 1950s and 1960s. Lamont Odett Vista Point - an Antelope Valley freeway rest area overlooking Palmdale - is named in his honor.