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From the editor: Weekly newspaper for sale

I love that phrase. It always makes me smile. It is what brought me to La Conner in March 2017 to look at buying the Weekly News. I will always associate my newspaper publishing career with my best friend, Dick Wittenberg, who loves to see his name in print. My newspaper ownership is fundamentally due to friendship but more, to love and trust. Dick believes in me completely. He knew I could successfully run a newspaper. He was right.

Weekly newspaper for sale. This is the second month of my seventh year owning the La Conner Weekly News. You hold the 317th issue I have published. This paper exists because of you, its readers, its advertisers and its staff. News editor Bill Reynolds loves journalism and La Conner; I don’t know which one more. Because Bill is a true journalist, he quotes my sentence, “I own it but it is the community’s newspaper.”

Now you can own it. Maybe, a handful or two of you readers will join in in purchasing it. Newspaper corporations of whatever size aren’t interested. Be glad for that. My efforts at recruiting career reporters and gaining the attention of university centers for journalism to buy the Weekly News have fallen flat. How will this newspaper continue?

First, the La Conner Weekly News is not in crisis. It is an award-winning newspaper. It is a financially successful business, with strong net income, great cash flow and a growing balance sheet. This is not a fire sale.

Maybe it is the Weekly News’ readers – you citizens – who face a crisis. More than once I have editorialized that the main threads weaving together the fabric of this community are the town government, the school district, the library, the fire departments, the museums and the newspaper. Only one, the Weekly News, is a business. The others are funded by taxes, grants and donations. My newspaper creates profits the old-fashioned way: it goes out and hustles to earn revenue.

The other threads of the La Conner fabric stay woven together without end as long as people live here. That is why citizens love to complain about paying taxes.

What keeps the activities of the town, the schools, the library, the fire departments and the museums current and noticed in the public eye? The newspaper.

Then there is this odd, really misunderstood framework of our society: democracy. How do we not only function but both bond and keep ourselves honest with each other? By learning the news of the day, becoming informed, debating, deciding and finding common ground. What is one vehicle for that, carrying us together into the future? It is not Facebook.

Call the Weekly News biased and you are paying attention. As publisher and editor I advocate for engagement and participation. Getting the whole story is ideal, but the paper prints the facts it has time and the resources to gather. Has it been wrong? Yes. The paper makes mistakes: factual errors, what it misinterprets, what it prints too soon. But as editor I have never deceived or lied, have never written anything that I knew was untrue.

The Weekly News is an advocate for democracy. Living together is a process. Living together is about more than specific government decisions, purchases, budget cuts and votes.

The greater La Conner community will continue to live together if its local newspaper closes. But a lot of people will agree that the fabric of the community will be weakened without this thread woven into its pattern.

Weekly newspaper for sale. No taxpayer loan will fund it. The Weekly News does not need a bailout. It does need loving care, trust and friends.

This is not about the Weekly News future. It is about the type of future community you want greater La Conner to be.

— Ken Stern


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