Dear Readers,

Never before has comprehensive, trusted news and information been more vital to making smart decisions for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends.

As one of the few remaining local, independent metro news media organizations left in the nation, The Seattle Times has been your neighbor, chronicling your news and connecting you with your community for 123 years.

With our state as an epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, your support, combined with the Blethen family’s unwavering stewardship, has enabled The Seattle Times to be the role model for regional metro crisis coverage.

Frank Blethen
Frank Blethen

You empower us to produce comprehensive coronavirus crisis coverage about the hard-hitting local impacts to our region. With your support, The Seattle Times has become a model for the industry, one few local newspapers will be able to replicate due to a growing lack of local ownership and the unconscionable disinvestment by absentee corporate and hedge fund owners.

Just when America’s struggling local newspaper system is most needed, the double whammy of the pandemic and conglomerate disinvestors is bringing the system to the edge of the abyss. Just this week, the nationwide Gannett chain ordered unpaid staff furloughs, and the Tampa Bay Times announced it would publish in print only two days a week. You have probably seen the recent stories about closures and staff cutbacks at a variety of publications in our state. In the Puget Sound region, Seattle’s The Stranger, the Everett Herald, Seattle Met magazine, and newspapers in the Olympic Peninsula, Forks, Ellensburg, Renton and Federal Way have all been impacted. Every loss of a journalist or publication weakens our community connection, our ability to be informed and our ability to self-govern.

The accelerating bad news about journalist layoffs, newspaper bankruptcies and shrinking papers has been decades in the making, the inevitable result of local stewardships being supplanted by out-of-state financial players.

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The foundation of our national information ecosystem has always been the local daily newspaper. This is where Seattle and the Puget Sound shine with the extraordinary community support of The Seattle Times and a robust free press ecosystem.

Record-level subscriptions now constitute 64% of our revenue. Generous community individuals, foundations, businesses and nonprofits have invested several million dollars a year to support working journalists in our four public-service journalism Labs: Education Lab, Traffic Lab, Project Homeless and most recently, The Investigative Journalism Fund. That support has leveraged the Blethen family’s resolve to provide our state the critical news, information and community connection needed not only during this crisis, but every day. This partnership between family and community enables us to maintain our 155-person news staff – even as the pandemic drives critical advertising losses.

Make no mistake: The Seattle Times will stay the course during this crisis. Our reporters, editors, designers, photographers and more have been working remotely for more than three weeks now. We were the first news organization in the country to produce a newspaper, website and numerous digital information products with a 100% remote staff.

Our mission is to keep you fully informed and connected, and to help you cope with all the challenges, not the least of which is keeping equanimity during quarantine. My main concern is staff fatigue and isolation. Seattle Times journalists and the employee family supporting them are mission-driven to the core, but we are stretched thin. One of our continual motivations is the incredible feedback we are receiving from you, our readers. We feel the love and support. It bolsters us every day.

In addition to your subscriptions, donations and expressed love for The Seattle Times, there are public policy steps to be aware of. Advocating for these will help save and rejuvenate our national local newspaper free press system:

  • Immediate emergency federal stimulus to preserve and add to the 38,000 newspaper newsroom positions in the country (down 47% from a decade ago)
  • Follow-up federal stimulus to reward papers that maintain or add journalists for at least six months
  • Federal small-business long- and short-term loans targeted to sustaining business operations of newspapers with 500 or less employees
  • Examine ways state and local government can support each state’s remaining local newspaper ecosystem
  • Follow and support the forthcoming Seattle Times-sponsored Save the Free Press Initiative

In the coming days, we will share more information with you on these items.

 

Meanwhile, many of you have asked how you can help. There are three ways:

 

With great appreciation,

Frank Blethen, publisher

Will Blethen, 4th generation director

John Blethen, 4th generation director