Since it is now officially spring, I think I’ll do a little spring housekeeping and clear out a few items related to post-equinox doings at the Methow Valley News, in no particular order.
We received some good news this week. For the third consecutive year, the News, in partnership with the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune in Oroville, has been awarded the contract to publish Okanogan County’s legal notices. The county commissioners selected our joint bid last week. The other bidder was the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle.
The commissioners consider the pricing offered by each bidder, along with circulation coverage and other factors.
For the News, it’s an important, consistent source of revenue. And, between our circulation area and that of the Gazette-Tribune, we are able to reach most of the county’s population with the legal notices. The legals are also published online by both newspapers, and by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.
The contract is up for bid each year, so we are vigilant about carefully preparing our bid documents in a timely manner.
Other legal notices — for school boards, town councils, fire districts and other public entities — are published separately from the county’s legals, with a different price structure.
Newspaper partnerships of this kind didn’t used to be very common. These days, as the print news industry struggles to survive, we are all looking for different ways to bring in revenue, and coalitions with papers we used to consider rivals make a lot of sense. Our partnership with Sound Publishing — which owns the Oroville newspaper — has been friendly and productive. We appreciate Sound Publishing’s support in making the bid possible.
For a variety or reasons, we recently decided that we need to bolster our reporting resources to ensure that we’re covering as much ground as possible, as well as possible, in bringing you fresh news every week. So we advertised for a part-time reporter, not knowing what to expect.
We were gratified to get a half-dozen applications from enthusiastic, intriguing candidates with various kinds of writing experience. It was nice to have promising options, and some of the people we talked to will likely join our corps of freelancers.
As for the candidate we hired, we got lucky, or serendipity intervened, or the Methow karma just kicked in again. Coming on board this week is Ashley Ahearn. If you have spent much time in the Seattle area listening to public radio, you may recognize her name and probably her voice.
Ashley spent the last seven years as an award-winning science and environmental multimedia reporter for KUOW. She and her husband moved to the Methow Valley late last year. She is also quite adept at developing podcasts, and has her own creative company, Ahearn Productions, to help other organizations.
In 2017, Ashley developed and hosted the climate change podcast “Terrestrial,” in partnership with NPR StoryLab and KUOW. She regularly contributed to national programs including “The World,” “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Here and Now” and “Living on Earth.” She has also been a keynote speaker and guest lecturer around the country.
Ashley earned a master’s degree in science journalism from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature with a concentration in journalism from Georgetown University. She is interested in all things outdoors, and especially likes horseback riding in the Methow Valley.
I’ve always been quite proud of the quality of work that our own award-winning reporters do at the News. We look forward to Ashley joining our little crew of rural journalists who think like global communicators. So if she calls you related to a story, it’s legit.
It may take a bit of time to sort out potential confusion between the new Ashley and the original Ashley — Ashley Lodato, our valued Winthrop correspondent for the Valley Life page. Recently they met for coffee, which may have been another of those portentous valley events.
Other karmic connections are almost spooky. One of Ashley Ahearn’s best friends at KUOW is Isolde Raftery, who worked for me as a reporter when I was editor of the Skagit Valley Herald. Ashley and I also have a mutual acquaintance with Chris Solomon, an accomplished environmental and outdoors writer whose excellent work has appeared in many national publications — and who recently moved to the Methow.
I don’t question how things work out around here. I just accept it and enjoy it.