This time of year always brings a bit of reflection. Even more so as we wind down a decade and look forward to a new one.
2019 has been a remarkable year at The Seattle Times. As I look at our accomplishments this year, there are some obvious underpinnings that helped make it all happen. First, strong support from our readers, local business partners, advertisers and those who make our community-funded journalism possible. As I look at the state of our industry, its consolidation and the dominance of hedge fund ownership, the second underpinning becomes obvious: our local, independent ownership, now in its 123rd year.
What brings it all together is our amazing employees. They’re smart, dedicated, passionate and true to our mission. And a joy to work with and for.
With that as background, on to all that I am thankful for.
• At the top of the list is the recent pension legislation that was passed last week. This is something that we have been working on for almost eight years. As we reported to you last week, this doesn’t excuse us from our liabilities and cash contributions. It does stretch them out, which reduces the near-term size of those contributions and gives us a fighting chance of survival. Special thanks to Senator Patty Murray for her support and leadership in this effort.
• Last year we made the difficult decision to sell our property and production plant in Bothell. To make this happen, we will shift our printing to our commercial printing subsidiary in Kent in 2020. When this process is complete and the property closes, we will have additional cash resources to invest in our future and our evolving business model. Ownership will not get a penny from these transactions. This, combined with our pension relief, sets us up to continue our work while protecting our local, independent ownership. Sadly, not many communities can say this.
• The great work that our newsroom continues to produce. From “Hostile Waters” and our amazing combination of in-depth journalism, video presentation and explanatory graphics, to our industry-leading Boeing coverage, our recent election season stories, Fund For The Needy stories and so much more.
• The nationwide recognition we are getting for our work in growing digital subscribers, now almost 50,000 strong. And, the knowledge that we have outperformed our peers in many key areas.
• Our ongoing community support that allows us to provide in-depth, solutions-based reporting for key issues impacting our community — issues like an education system that fails far too many, challenges with homelessness and growing problems with traffic and transportation. This year we launched another campaign to support expanded investigative journalism work. This has been a cornerstone of who we are, and this will push us to new levels. This is another area where we are getting nationwide attention.
• Our expanded, cutting-edge product offerings for our advertising partners. This, along with the wonderful expertise of our sales staff, is a powerful combination for advertisers.
• The launch of a “save the free press” movement, based here in Seattle.
• And on and on!
Last year I closed my message with the following statement: “Our goal remains the same as it has been for decades: to provide quality journalism that makes our community a better place. We will continue to fight to maintain our local, independent ownership. You deserve a local voice, not one dictated by ‘corporate.’ This has been our pledge for 122 years, and we renew it today.”
We made great progress on this pledge in 2019, thanks to many. Our pledge remains and will never change.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for being part of our journey.
Happy New Year.