You may notice changes in the appearance of this week’s newspaper — some subtle, some more obvious. They are part of our rethinking of how the newspaper should look, in some cases updating styles that have been in place for years. It’s an ongoing process, reflecting the changing media scene and a need to stay fresh for readers.
The updated elements were created by designer MyKenzie Bennett. Most notable are the new section headings — Opinion, Arts, Sports & Recreation, Valley Life and the business directories. Each now consists of a single, colored bar with the words in all-capital, sans-serif font. The sections are color-coded — orange for Arts, green for Sports & Recreation, etc. — which may have more of a subliminal affect. They are easier to read and more-efficient for design purposes, and brighten up the pages.
You may need to be a student of typography to immediately discern the difference in what we call the “banner” at the top of page A1, which includes a background photograph (different every week), some “teasers” to articles inside the paper, and the newspaper’s name — which is now in a different type face. It’s still a serif font, but the letters are shorter and thicker so our logo stands out more distinctly. It’s definitely bolder.
Most of our other traditional design elements are still in place, but we expect to continue working on updates that will improve the readability of the paper.
While it has often stretched our resources, we are attempting to publish a newspaper of at least 12 pages and, like this week, 16 pages when we can. We’re hopeful that more pages will give us more room to run more and larger photos. There are some weeks when we wish we could produce a 14-page “in-between” paper, but the press configuration doesn’t allow that.
Larger papers allow us to get things into print more quickly. But they can only be supported by enough advertising to justify the additional printing and mailing costs — which are going up for everyone in the industry.
In a related segue, another change coming up soon is an increase in our subscription prices, which have not been adjusted for several years. We have tried to hold the line as long as possible. Some of you have suggested that we increase our rates, in the spirit of ensuring that the paper will survive. We’ll keep that in mind as we look for a good place to land that helps our bottom line but does not add too much strain to yours.
New ownership elsewhere
While the Methow Valley News remains the only single-owner, totally independent newspaper in Okanogan County, other shifts are taking place in the regional media landscape. As you will read on page A7, the five publications that have been under the ownership of NCW Media — the weekly Leavenworth Echo, Cashmere Valley Record, Lake Chelan Mirror and Quad City Herald, and the monthly Wenatchee Business Journal — have been sold to Ward Media LLC.
Ward’s media-savvy owners are promising to beef up all their publications, which is good news for readers and advertisers in north central Washington. We wish them success in building on NCW Media’s legacy — strong newspapers anywhere help make newspapers stronger everywhere.
Unlike many “media deserts” around the country, Okanogan County is served by four weekly newspapers including the Methow Valley News and the Quad City Herald.
The Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune in Oroville, the Methow Valley News partner in publishing the county’s legal notices, is owned by Everett-based Sound Publishing — where Ward Media co-owner Terry Ward most recently worked as a group publisher and vice president.
The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle had been owned since 1996 by Oregon-based Eagle Newspapers until was purchased in 2019 by J. Louie Mullen and his father Tom Mullen. The Mullens are a newspaper family, with ownerships stretching from the Midwest to the West, including the Newport Miner in northeast Washington, the Port Townsend Leader and the Shelton Mason County Journal.
It’s a healthy sign that newspapers continue to have support and value in communities they make an effort to serve.