It’s no secret that newspapers, including The Olympian, have been through enormous changes in the past few years. Like every other business, we were hit hard by the recession. And alongside it came a sea of change in reader habits as they began to get their news in digital form as well as in print.
Like others in our community, we cut costs to meet the new revenue reality, and it was painful. We lost talented and dedicated journalists, salespeople, press crew and delivery staff to buyouts and layoffs. We know readers have noticed some of the cutbacks. They are a hard reality.
And yet, we have published online and in print every single day. Every single day.
To do so, The Olympian has found new and creative solutions to those challenges. With our sister newspaper in Tacoma, The New Tribune, we have done what family does – we’ve supported each other.
We have moved some functions from Olympia to Tacoma, where a merged staff works for both newspapers. But we made a conscious decision to keep the local news-gathering team, editorial decision-making and a local advertising team right here in Olympia, where they have always been.
Our team of cops, education, city, business and political reporters, as well as columnists and photographers, is still the largest news-gathering force by far in the South Sound. The team covers local stories under the direction of an editor – me. I spend all day every day in The Olympian newsroom. During twice-daily news meetings, I decide which stories, local and national, will play on the front page.
Our first partnership move was on the copy desk, where talented wordsmiths assemble the physical newspapers and also fine-tune the grammar, spelling and local style points. Because everything is edited electronically, it made sense not to duplicate that function in two newsrooms 28 miles apart. Similarly, The Olympian is printed on The News Tribune’s press.
Sports and features departments were consolidated, with staff working for both newspapers. The Olympian’s hyper-local Weekend magazine continues to inform readers of happenings in Thurston County. A high school sports reporter is based in Olympia, but games also are covered by reporters who previously worked solely for The News Tribune. Olympian readers get the benefit of The News Tribune’s award-winning Pac-12 and professional sports coverage.
This partnership has also made possible recent additions to The Olympian, such as the local business page on Sunday and the Capital Update page during the week.
The Olympian maintains an independent editorial board and editorial page. The board meets with local politicians and officials to hear first-hand what is on the legislative agenda, the fundraising challenges or the launching of community initiatives.
Our advertising team also is solidly based in Olympia.
We’ve had bumps along the way as we figured out how to make this blended family work. We found out what kind of stories our readers liked when we shared, and what coverage needed to remain separate and local. We’re still learning, and if you think there’s something we should know, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerre Redecker is the senior editor at The Olympian.