Publisher Frank Blethen shares his year-end employee family message with Seattle Times readers.
Dear in-paper and digital readers:
Good morning. We have a special holiday gift for you. A gift which is very rare across the country. Perpetuation of your Seattle Times as a local print and digital newspaper and public-service company. Mission-based, fiercely independent, dedicated to our Founding Fathers’ vision of a robust local free press system to ensure popular governance and opportunity for all.
The Seattle Times’ success would not be possible without the community’s tremendous print and digital subscription support, and the community support of our public-service journalism projects (The Greater Good Campaign, Education Lab, Traffic Lab, Project Homeless). Thank you for making the free press a reality in Seattle and our state.
Following is the Blethen family’s year-end employee family message, which succinctly summarizes the state of The Times.
Reflections on 2018
Each year-end is always a time of reflection for me. This year, the focus is on both 2018 and the transformative decade of 2008-2018.
We end the year as one of the most progressive and respected papers in the country — both journalistically and business-wise.
As an emerging sustainable business model based on mission and relevant content, our transformation and innovations are industry leaders.
This year marks the culmination of one of the most extraordinary journeys in the newspaper journalism world. A journey of passion, persistence, sacrifice, innovation, extraordinary journalism and public service, and an indomitable will to succeed.
The Seattle Times’ journalism and public service continue to be regarded as a beacon of Free Press light and hope across the country.
Next, 2008 – 2018
Beginning with the banking system collapse and the Great Recession, the start of the decade was a bleak and tense time, not only for The Seattle Times but for the country and especially our fragile Free Press. The newspaper business was already suffering from years of destructive consolidation, loss of localism, unconscionable journalism disinvestment, technological disruption and generational transition. Our resolve has never been tested more severely throughout our 122 years.
The Blethen family responded by selling all our non-newspaper assets (South Lake Union property) and investing every cent in The Seattle Times — in particular, in new and upgraded technology, and in maintaining the largest news operation in the Pacific Northwest, and building a workforce tooled for the future. We are all in on transformation and sustainability.
2019 and Going Forward
Today’s Seattle Times culture is like never before. It is characterized by the startup traits of innovation, creativity and collaboration. All the while still solidly grounded in mission. Hence our tag line “The 122-year-old startup company.”
The skills of your Times family have grown exponentially, as have our relentless innovation, product development and public service.
We have developed an extraordinary team of senior leaders poised to lead our transformation through the next decade. And we are enhancing our multi-generational stewardship with the emergence of the fifth generation of the Blethen family.
The journey won’t be easy, but we are resolute on the path of transformation from print-only to a sustainable digital, print journalism and business model.
From all the Blethen family — our deep appreciation and thank you for being a part of The Times’ family on this extraordinary journey.
The best is yet to come!