As one of my bosses put it, “There’s just no sugarcoating this.”
COVID-19 is more than a virus — it’s a sea change. The way we approach business, education and health care will likely be forever altered. If there’s any luck to be had, we’ll come out better and stronger than ever before.
Until then, we have many challenges ahead of us, and how you receive accurate, timely and locally-focused information just became one them.
Last Tuesday, March 24, The Courier-Herald received unprecedented news: that it was one of five newspapers (the others being Bellevue Reporter, the Snoqualmie Valley Record, the Mercer Island Reporter, and the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber) out of 13 Sound Publishing titles in King County that had the revenue to continue producing a printed, physical newspaper. Everyone else has gone 100 percent online.
And to make the situation even more bleak, there was no guarantee these titles would pull in enough ad revenue after their last March editions hit the presses and continue printing, forcing them to join the growing number of online-only papers.
Thats right — the March 25 edition of The Courier-Herald was the last printed edition my company was able to promise to deliver to you until this coronavirus outbreak ceases and businesses begin to reopen.
Given that this is editorial is printing in the April 1 edition, I want to point something special out to you: every single advertisement, from the full-page color ad from the city of Enumclaw to the smallest classified ad offering fruit tree-pruning services, contributed to ensuring you were able to pick up this paper off your driveway or doorstep this week, as has been done for the last 119 years. I wish I had column inches to thank each and every one of them personally for their contribution.
Putting this paper together was no small feat. As more than half of this county’s papers had to temporarily stop printing, the vast majority their news, sales and advertising/marketing staff were furloughed, and those who were left — six writers and six salesfolks, plus a handful of administrators — had their hours cut in half while simultaneously shouldering the workload of additional publications.
The Courier-Herald is lucky enough to have such a solid community to rely on, and we’ve been able to find the revenue to produce an April 15 edition, and we are working diligently on the April 8 paper (just don’t ask me why it’s happening in that order).
Other papers were not so fortunate, and the longer this crisis continues, the more likely The Courier-Herald will join them.
This does not spell the end of your local paper. Even if we temporarily move to an online-only news outlet, we will continue to do our best to restart printing as fast as possible.
As for how you, our readers, can help during this time? Grab a subscription. Tell advertisers you saw their ad in the paper when you do business with them. Call and give us story ideas. Participate in our contests. Tell the community about your special events. Write letters to me. Or, just come into our office and say, “Hi!” (But wait until the quarantine is over, please.)
An engaged community is the best thing for a newspaper. That’s what has made The Courier-Herald so special for all these years, and will keep us special for many years more.
Know that during these uncertain times, we are here for you, and will continue our mission to keep you informed and appraised, no matter what form we take.
So stay safe, stay calm, keep reading, and best of luck to us all.