Dear Readers:

Usually at year-end I share with you an update on the state of your Seattle Times. This year, Seattle Times President Alan Fisco will do that on Dec. 29th.

Today, we want to share something bigger than just The Seattle Times – the state of the free press system in our nation. This is a system literally on life support as it suffers through the final stages of disinvestment and destruction by a handful of non-democratic fiscal oligarchies (hedge funds and distressed-asset players) who control most of the country’s newspapers. These are the bottom-feeders at the end of a four-decade period of consolidation and lost local control – something that we should never have tolerated because it has put our democracy in peril.

This crisis is not well understood, even in Greater Seattle where we enjoy one of the few major metro newspapers that is still local, robust and trusted.

In keeping with the Blethen family’s 123-year stewardship of independent journalism and community service, we believe this is the moment for all of us to speak up and address the national crisis before it is too late.

As an extension of The Times’ commitment to preserving the free press across America – not just Seattle, Yakima and Walla Walla – earlier this week we hosted a “Save the Free Press” meeting. This brought together a stellar core of national leaders from policy, activism, academia, philanthropy, journalism and independent newspapers.

The purpose is to begin a nationwide Save the Free Press Initiative by identifying and prioritizing solutions necessary to:

  • Reform newspaper ownership by returning to a national system based on localism and trust.
  • Reform the internet to enable local newspapers to hire more journalists and produce more news – for instance, expanded coverage of state and county governments.

Why Seattle for the beginning of a free press movement?

Because The Seattle Times is one of the rare newspapers under continual private, local stewardship for more than 100 years. This stewardship has enabled us to become a national beacon of light with our journalism and innovation. We are proof that while stressed, the business model is still viable when not hobbled by debt.

And because our community support for quality local journalism in the Greater Seattle area is unparalleled across the country. That is not surprising for a community known for innovation, enlightenment and generosity.

On the state level, we will initiate discussions with our state Legislature about creating incentives and removing roadblocks to enable building more local ownership.

Statement of Purpose for the Save the Free Press Initiative.

Your community support of The Seattle Times through subscriptions, public-service journalism funding and advertising has been fantastic. Thanks to you, Greater Seattle’s free press has a bright future.