On Friday, Aug. 10, 2007, an important, albeit invisible, torch was passed. The ownership of the local newspapers in Marysville and Arlington changed, almost literally with some strokes of a pen and a click of computer keys.
The new owner is Sound Publishing Inc., the expanding group of Washington newspapers establishing itself as a print/web media company to be reckoned with. Sound Publishing is a subsidiary of Black Press Ltd. of Victoria, B.C., which owns weeklies in that province and a daily in Alberta and the Honolulu (Hawaii) Star-Bulletin and Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal dailies.
Sound now owns 32 weekly, bi-weekly and daily newspapers, 18 classified shoppers in the Nickel Publications group, and also has 18 network partner newspapers in northwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon more papers than any other single owner in the area. The total weekly circulation of the group tops 850,000.
Last Friday Sound added five more, these from Sun News, Inc. Included in the purchase were the Wenatchee and Bellingham Business Journals, monthly publications and the regional Express Shopper, owned with the Globe and Times by Sun News.
As one of those former owners and the Editor and Publisher of the Marysville Globe and Arlington Times, I am writing this news story in the first person, an uncommon undertaking in journalistic circles but the event seems to justify the treatment.
The other owner of this paper, Robert Marshall, was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrigs Disease late last year. His decline has been much faster than expected. The disease attacks muscle systems resulting eventually and inexorably in death. Bob took the diagnosis like a temporary setback. He had qualified to run in the Boston Marathon in the spring. He eventually did run and finish in one of the worst weather conditions in recent marathon history. But he walked as much as he ran as the ALS ate away at his system.
Marshalls wife Debi, wrote often of her own experiences with cancer and the trials and successes of many others in our communities who battled disease and heartache in her Silver Linings column during the first several years of our ownership. She just finished another chemotherapy round in a regular series begun 14 years ago. She was told back then she would be dead in a week. Fourteen years of chemotherapy and related cancer treatments have taken a toll on her body but not her spirit.
Both Debi and my own wife, Catherine, are partners in Sun News. Catherine has been working again recently in various capacities at the Globe and Times after serving as a copy editor during several of the early years. The four of us also own three other community weeklies in the Mountain West. The Marshalls mounting health problems have made the management task unworkable.
The four of us formed Sun News to purchase the Globe and Times in February of 1997, just over 10 years ago from Sim Wilson III. Later we purchased similar community papers in Idaho and Utah. On September 11, 2001, we purchased three business monthlies. The transaction was held up because our financial transaction was handled by a company whose offices were destroyed in the Twin Towers.
It has been my job these last ten years to be a steward of our community newspapers and business journals. I will continue on as a steward but more importantly so will the others on the staff. Scott Frank continues as Managing Editor and Sarah Arney continues in that post at the Arlington Times. Reporters, sales staff and support folks will be the same people and for readers and ad customers the ownership change will be mostly invisible.
Not that there wont be some changes. Our copy customers in Arlington and Marysville are adjusting to the closing of our copy center, ScrivenerCopies. Both the Times and Globe will likely be going to the narrower page format favored by most newspapers today. The New York Times just made that switch as well, so we are in good company. Sound is completing a large new printing facility in the Paine Field complex that over time will provide our publications, advertisers and printing customers with opportunities not available currently.
The future under Sound Publishings ownership looks promising for our community newspapers, and that parallels and supports the promising future for our communities. Weekly newspapers are strong across the country and we expect our own to add to that trend under Sound Publishings ownership.
Comments on the ownership change should be sent to LETTERS TO EDITOR at www.marysvilleglobe.com.
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