For those of us who work on the journalism side of the newspaper endeavor, events occasionally occur that remind us that ultimately this is, in fact, a business. Of course, that fact is a daily reality for publishers, advertising representatives and business office employees. This week certainly offered a heavy dose of reality for all employees of the Kitsap Newspaper Group, and especially the Bainbridge Review.
Sound Publishing, a Poulsbo-based subsidiary of Black Press Ltd. and the parent company of several Kitsap County community newspapers, announced this week that in January all of its Kitsap publications will become tabloid weeklies. All but the Review, North Kitsap Herald and the Port Orchard Independent had already made the changeover. Those three papers, by the way, were among the first half-dozen U.S. weeklies that David Black purchased in 1988. Black now owns 30-plus community newspapers in the Puget Sound area.
As do most businesses, newspapers, which operate as individual entities in almost all ways journalistically and in many ways business-wise, grow and expand during good economic times and constrict when there’s a financial downturn. The latter happens occasionally and we’re certainly experiencing such a time these days. The actions taken by Sound are predicated on a plan that will allow the Review and its sister papers to survive this time and prosper another day. Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere.
The painful part is that 44 people will no longer be employed at Sound’s publishing facility on Day Road as a result of the company’s decision to transfer its printing operations to a large facility in Everett, effective Jan. 2, 2009. About a third of them will be offered jobs in Everett, but there were a lot of long faces at the printing facility when Sound President Manfred Tempelmayr delivered the bad news on Wednesday. The presses will remain in place in case they are needed when the economy turns rosy once again.
As these words are being written from the second-story office of the Review, the rumble of presses that have printed the Review and several other publications each week is once again reverberating from the bowels of the large building. The presses have been the workhorse of the weekly publishing business on this side of the Sound for decades, especially since former Review owner Verda Averill moved into the current facility in the 1980s.
While there is a degree of trauma being felt inside our walls, changes at the Review itself will be minimal and generally positive for both readers and advertisers.
All it really means is that the newspaper will roll out all of its information into a narrower but fatter publication that will be delivered to the community once a week on Fridays instead of a thinner version coming out twice a week. Another positive consequence is that the frequency change will allow the Review staff to place added emphasis on our expanded and improving Web site, which is drawing about 10,000 visitors each month and has become a virtlual third edition.
Review employees will continue to work diligently to provide the best product possible. Generally, producing a paper once a week instead of twice weekly helps create a better product simply because it eliminates an additional deadline and allows staff to focus on print and online stories. The goal is for these changes to ensure that the Review will remain the voice of Bainbridge Island for many years to come.