PUBLISHER’S COLUMN | News-Times picking up mantle as Coupeville newspaper closes

On Thursday, Jan. 19, we will be publishing the last edition of The Whidbey Examiner, the sister newspaper of the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record.

My decision to close The Examiner after 22 years was very difficult and a personal one. I co-founded the newspaper in 1994 with Gretchen Sotomayor, Mary Kay Doody, Bill Wilson and Laura Blankenship with high hopes of retiring from there someday, passing the mantle to other up-and-coming journalists. We also had shareholders who believed in our dream of producing a fair, balanced newspaper for Coupeville.

Times changed, however. The advent of computers allowed others to jump in and go after a piece of the limited advertising pie, producing sugary, puffy publications and websites that satisfy a sweet tooth, but not the hunger for real news.

We also saw the Internet, for a time, become a trusted purveyor of information. Now, we are seeing the backlash of Internet fake news and fluffy vehicles.

What I believe we are witnessing is the beginning of a resurgence for newspapers built on a foundation of true journalism.

During 2016, we saw circulation for the News-Times and The Record grow by 3.2 and 5 percent, respectively. That’s phenomenal growth in this day and age. Increasingly, I hear people say they love the papers and look forward to reading them twice a week.

The Examiner, however, dipped in both readership and ad revenue. Rather than see The Examiner continue to whither, I wanted to see it go out as it came in — as a labor of love produced and distributed by true believers in journalism.

The Examiner’s Coupeville coverage will live on. We are not cutting staff, but we are introducing Examiner pages to the News-Times starting with the Saturday, Jan. 21 edition.

I see an opportunity to continue drawing new readers as people increasingly realize and appreciate the importance of true community journalism. I also believe it’s a step toward “One Whidbey” which, for me, means bringing together residents from across the island through their local newspapers, The News-Times and Record.

My team lives and breathes Whidbey and are proud to be a part of the News-Times and Record and of what those newspapers accomplish. I’m proud to work alongside people who truly care and to be a part of newspapers that are making a difference.

During 2017, we’re going to talk freely and often about what the News-Times and Record bring to the table, whether it be reliable, vetted journalistic content, proven circulation and distribution or a well-informed readership.

Those things matter, but we’ve hesitated to talk about them.

For now, however, let’s toast the little newspaper that could, and celebrate the addition of expanded Coupeville coverage to the News-Times.

Keven R. Graves is editor and publisher for the Whidbey News-Times, South Whidbey Record and The Coupeville Examiner. He can be reached by email at kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com

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