THE WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER Vol. 99, No. 3 March 2014
Photos from the annual ADNW/WNPA event in Olympia. PAGE 7
Journal of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington • www.wnpa.com
House OKs records training bill
Elected officials would complete course in 90 days The Herald, Everett
hose serving in elected office will be required to study up on the state’s public records and open meeting laws under a bill approved by the state House in midFebruary. The bill calls for elected and appointed office-holders to undergo training on the Public Records Act and Open Meetings Law within 90 days of taking office. House Bill 2121 also would require train-
ing for employees of all cities, counties and special districts responsible for dealing with public record requests. “Our citizens have a right to a government that takes its responsibility toward publicopenness very seriously,” said Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, the measure’s sponsor. “Public officials and agency publicrecords officers must not violate the law and deny the public our right to see government operate in the sunshine. ”Today, many elected officials across the state voluntarily complete the online-training provided through the Office of the Attorney General website
using materials prepared by the agency. Pollet said it takes about 30 minutes. This bill would make it a requirement and direct officeholders and employees to retake it at least once every four years. It passed on a 64-34 vote and awaits a hearing in Senate Governmental Operations Committee. Backers think mandating education on the open government laws will curtail violations, especially ones committed accidentally because of a misunderstanding of the laws. These violations can lead to costly lawsuits against their communities.
Supporters cite a 2012 report in which state auditors compiled 250 incidents of open government related-issues among local governments. Opponents said the bill is wellintended but unnecessary because so many public officials already undertake the training upon taking office. “This truly is not rocket science and this bill goes too far,” said Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, in the brief floor debate. Representatives of cities, counties and media organizations all endorsed the legislation at public hearings on the bill.
Times gets new publisher in Waitsburg Graham becomes eighth to lead 136-year-old paper The Times, Waitsburg
Patrick Sullivan/Port Townsend Leader
With ‘Better Days Barn,’ Patrick Sullivan won first place in Best Black and White Feature Photo, Circulation Groups II-IV Combined, for the Port Townsend Leader in the 2013 Washington Better Newspaper Contest. The judges wrote, “There’s a lot to look at in this photo ... I found myself studying it for a long time, and I consider it a memorable depiction of times gone by.”
ongtime Dayton resident and former publisher of the Blue Mountain News, became the eighth publisher of the Times in Waitsburg. Graham, who was hired as the paper’s editor about a year ago, agreed on Jan. 1 to buy its holding company, Touchet Valley Publishing, from owner Imbert Matthee. The Times, which marked its 136th year last year, will be in very good hands, said Matthee, who had to move his family back to Bainbridge Island for personal reasons. “Ken is deeply rooted here and cares a great deal about this community,” Matthee said. “He has been a trusted newsman for many years. He has already brought a lot of integrity to the Times and will make it an even better product for readers in Waitsburg, Dayton, Prescott and Walla Walla.” Graham started the BMN in 2007 because a better quality newspaper was needed in Dayton at that time, and he ran it successfully for five years before closing it at the end of 2011. For a few months in 2012 he covered Dayton and Waitsburg for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and, in January 2013, he was hired as the editor of the Times. Graham grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University See TIMES, page 5
Mayor orders officer’s misconduct finding reinstated
Seattle policeman had confrontation with Stranger staffer The Seattle Times
ith an apology, Interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey said Feb. 24 he has reinstated a misconduct finding against an officer who threatened to harass a journalist who was observing police detain a man.
“Overturning the finding of misconduct was a mistake and sent the wrong message to our officers and to the public,” an emotional Bailey said during a news conference at Seattle police headquarters where he reiterated that his original intent was to educate the officer by imposing additional training instead of a suspension. His announcement came as new details emerged about six other cases in which Bailey lifted misconduct findings against
officers Feb. 20, which he said he won’t rescind because they were tentatively approved before he became chief. Mayor Ed Murray, in an interview with the Seattle Times after the Feb. 24 news conference, said he issued the directive that led Bailey, whom he appointed interim chief last month, to reinstate the misconduct finding against Officer John Marion.
RELATED STORY, PAGE 3
Bailey’s lifting of the misconduct finding was first reported Feb. 20 in the Seattle Times. Marion’s one-day suspension was ordered in January by former interim Chief Jim Pugel, who found Marion acted unprofessionally during a July 30 encounter in the International District with Dominic Holden, the news editor of the weekly newspaper the Stranger. According to Holden, who wrote about the incident, he was on his bicycle when he saw
a half-dozen officers surrounding a man at a transit station near Jackson Street. Holden got off his bike to observe and to take notes and pictures, he said. While he was taking pictures from the public sidewalk, which is legal, a deputy with the King County Sheriff’s Office threatened to arrest him, Holden reported. Holden wrote that when he questioned Marion about who was in charge of the scene, Marion “became furious” and See SEATTLE, page 2
Filling some big shoeboxes at local newspapers
ack in July of 2010, when Lafromboise Communications, Inc. purchased the Reflector Newspaper, I had the opportunity to work at the paper for a couple weeks during the transition. At the time I was the executive editor of the Chronicle, the Reflector’s sister newspaper based in Centralia. New Publisher Steve Walker asked for an assist in the newsroom as longtime publisher, editor and owner Marvin Case was retiring after three decades. Marvin’s presence was pervasive throughout the operations. He wrote stories and opinion columns, took photographs and worked in the printing shop. He repaired the newspaper racks and fixed the plumbing when needed. He ruled the business side of operations as well. I was impressed with his
Officers: President: Bill Forhan, NCW Media, Leavenworth l First Vice President: Keven Graves, Whidbey News Group, Coupeville l Second Vice President: Lori Maxim, Sound Publishing l Past President: Jana Stoner, Northern Kittitas County Tribune, Cle Elum l Secretary: Bill Will, WNPA, Seattle Trustees: Donna Etchey, Sound Publishing l Eric LaFontaine, Othello Outlook l Don Nelson, Methow Valley News, Twisp l Stephen McFadden, Ritzville-Adams County Journal l Fred Obee, Port Townsend Leader l Michael Wagar, Lafromboise Communications Staff: Executive Director: Bill Will l Editor/Manager of Member Services: Mae Waldron
Officers: President: Rob Blethen, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Treasurer: Christine Fossett, Chronicle, Centralia Board: Nathan Alford, Moscow-Pullman Daily News l Tyler Miller, Daily Record, Ellensburg l Heather Hernandez, Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon l Dave Zeeck, News Tribune, Tacoma Executive Director: Rowland Thompson THE WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER is the official publication of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. It is published monthly by WNPA, P.O. Box 29, Olympia WA 98507, phone (206) 634-3838. Email: mwaldron@ wnpa.com; URL: www.wnpa.com, in conjunction with Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington, P.O. Box 29, Olympia, WA 98507, (360) 943-9960. Email: anewspaper@ aol.com.
effort to report on all the local happenings. I was told Marvin would tour through town, taking notes off bulletin boards situated in Michael restaurants, Wagar grocery stores Publisher, Nisqually Valley and other News; Regional places that Executive Editor, allowed for Chroncile, Battle notices and Ground Reflector posters of upcoming events. He had a deep desire to get everything local into the paper. It is why today when I ask people what they think about the Reflector, they tell me it is the only paper they read, as it is the only paper that will list their child in print whether it is on the honor roll or for another local
activity. I interviewed Marvin on his last day at work for a front-page story marking his exit. The headline and subhead: “Marvin Case: A Mountain of a Man, Outgoing publisher and editor remembered for his hard work, commitment to employees and community.” Today, I am no longer the editor at the Chronicle. My duties for Lafromboise Communications, Inc. are now as publisher/editor of the weekly Nisqually Valley News in Yelm. I also am the regional executive editor for the newspaper chain, responsible for overall editorial quality for all three papers. As I start to get more involved with the Reflector, I am reminded of Marvin’s continued influence and his commitment to local news and activities. It is the strength of the Reflector and will always be priority one com-
ing from the newsroom. My main partner in crime at the Reflector is capable editor Ken Vance. A veteran newsman, he gets it, as evidenced by his end-of-the-year column on his favorite stories of 2013. It wasn’t a big political scandal, a lurid crime or a big-money economic development. Nope, Ken’s favorite was about Battle Ground teen Sierra Swearingen. Ken wrote: “For years, Sierra has packed shoeboxes with small toys and treats and then donates them to Operation Christmas Child, who sends them all over the world. ... I put it on our front page (back in 2012). ... I was meeting a friend for lunch at Hockinson Cafe. ... He kind of smirked as he poked fun at me for having a story on our cover about a young girl and her shoeboxes. ... I told him I was proud to put stories like Sierra’s on the cover of our
paper. ... So, fast-forward a year to our recent story about Sierra and her efforts to make the world a better place. ... You see, the 2012 story was about how Sierra had filled 60 shoeboxes. The 2013 story was about how she had filled 260 shoeboxes and she said it was due to the response she got from area residents who read the first story and wanted to help her with her efforts.” With Marvin’s earlier work and Ken’s awareness, I believe the Reflector is well positioned to continue to be your source of hyper-local community journalism. We will do our best to embrace Marvin’s example of hard work, and his commitment to employees and this community. Let me know how we’re doing. Reprinted with permission.
A ‘flash’ of insight about our freedoms
f you associate the First Amendment more with the rarified air of constitutional debate, or powdered wigs and colonial days, try thinking in more modern terms — say speed traps and blinking headlights. For most of us, much of the Bill of Rights comes into play infrequently, if ever. A few examples: According to a 2013 survey, only one in three U.S. households are home to a firearm (Second Amendment). And thankfully, protection in our lifetimes against illegal search and seizure (Fourth) or self-incrimination (Fifth) will be more legal theory rather than active tool. But the First Amendment — the nation’s “blue collar” amendment — goes to work every day alongside us. We regularly, if not daily, use the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition to worship as we will, to speak our minds freely, and to ask our elected leaders to make changes on matters of public interest. There are disputes over the way we apply those core freedoms, sometimes reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. But at other times, the legal collision and decision are more downto-earth and closer to home.
Case in point, Michael J. Elli challenged a city ordinance in his hometown, Ellisville, Mo., that permitted police to Gene ticket drivers Policinski who flashed senior vice president, headlights to warn oncom- First Amendment ing motorists Center approaching a speed trap. About 2:50 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2012, Elli flashed his headlights after passing police. He was stopped and ticketed. Elli faced a $1,000 fine, and later was warned by a municipal judge about a charge of “obstruction of justice.” The city dropped the prosecution after Elli pled not guilty, and later said it ordered police not to enforce the law. Nonetheless, Elli proceeded with a federal lawsuit. In early February, U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey issued an order to make certain he stopped the “chilling effect” on citizens exercising their First Amendment right of free speech. Judge Henry’s ruling makes the important point that Missouri
law forbids someone from warning of “impending discovery or apprehension,” but specifically excludes telling someone to comply with the law. In other words, communicating “slow down” is protected speech because it encourages safer driving. An attorney for Elli from the American Civil Liberties Union, Tony Rothert, told the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog that there was a higher principle involved, too: With rare exception, the police shouldn’t be stopping or prosecuting people because of the content of their speech. As it happens, along with headlight warnings, other courts have protected a range of “speech,” from the spoken word to expressive conduct, where government may not prosecute. While it may be rude to do so, and may well mean a risk of arrest before later exoneration, courts have said people can confront police officers using insulting words, hand and finger gestures to a degree more than they could similarly challenge other “civilians.” In City of Houston v. Hill, in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court noted “a properly trained officer may reasonably be expected to exercise a greater degree of restraint
than the average citizen” to such expressive conduct. The point is not that courts are encouraging us to be insulting or disrespectful to police or other authorities — rather that government, from the lowest to highest official in the land, cannot override our right to speak freely without presenting good reason rooted in law. In Houston, Justice William J. Brennan wrote that “the right of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state. ... The First Amendment recognizes, wisely we think, that a certain amount of expressive disorder not only is inevitable in a society committed to individual freedom, but must itself be protected if that freedom would survive.” We traditionally celebrate freedom with fireworks on July 4, Independence Day. Maybe an occasional flick or two of the high-beams is in order, too. Gene Policinski is chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and senior vice president of the Institute’s First Amendment Center. He can be reached at gpolicinski@ newseum.org.
duct findings and granting training referrals mean the officers’ names are no longer subject to public disclosure; their cases can’t be listed on a data-collection system to track officer behavior; their erased misconduct can’t be used in gauging punishment for any future misconduct; and their cases can’t be used for comparative purposes in deciding other disciplinary cases, according to a source familiar with the matter. At the Feb. 24 news conference, Bailey, who came out of retirement as a Seattle assistant police chief to accept the interim post, said he will provide letters to the City Council explaining his rationale for overturning the cases within a 60-day period required under a city rule. In Marion’s case, Bailey said,
he thought the misconduct finding would remain in place when he lifted a one-day suspension without pay and referred Marion for training. “I deeply regret the confusion and misunderstanding that this matter may have caused and I personally apologize for that,” he said. Murray said in the interview with the Times that he directed that Bailey reinstate the misconduct finding on Feb. 22 after reconsidering his comments at a Feb. 21 news conference where he fully backed Bailey. Murray, who had joined with Bailey in arguing that training provided a better remedy than the suspension given to Marion, acknowledged the public saw the matter differently without being provided more education.
from page 1
began threatening to harass Holden at his place of employment. On Jan. 9, Seattle police found that the complaint brought by Holden against Marion was legitimate, or “founded,” and imposed the one-day suspension without pay. In response, Holden wrote in an article that a “relaxing” day off seemed too light a penalty. Pierce Murphy, director of the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, said in January that Marion’s conduct was “indefensible” and that the officer was being held accountable for his actions. Murphy, noting that discipline can range from oral reprimands to termination, said “once you get into taking
money away from a person, you are moving into the area of more significant discipline.” Earlier this month, King County sheriff John Urquhart fired the deputy who threatened to arrest Holden, Patrick Saulet, a 27-year veteran with a troubled disciplinary history. In the other six cases, spelled out in a Jan. 13 memo prepared by city attorneys and obtained by the Times, Bailey rescinded misconduct findings where discipline ranged from written reprimands to a two-day suspension held in abeyance. The cases were part of a backlog of appeals, or grievances, brought by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) in response to chiefs’ actions dating back several years. Bailey’s lifting of miscon-
OPEN ACCESS & LEGAL ISSUES
Deputy loses job after threats incident Confrontation with Stranger staffer results in firing
The Seattle Times
King County sheriff’s deputy who threatened to arrest an editor for the Stranger weekly newspaper during a sidewalk confrontation in July has been fired by Sheriff John Urquhart. Deputy Patrick Saulet, a 27-year veteran with a troubled disciplinary history, was terminated at the end of the business day Feb. 3, according to Urquhart. Urquhart found that Saulet “took exception” to Dominic Holden, the Stranger’s news editor, lawfully doing his job on public property, according to a Jan. 30 disciplinary letter sent to Saulet. Saulet became “agitated and confrontational” and essentially “squared off” with Holden, the letter said. Holden wrote that he was riding his bike past Fourth Avenue South and South Jackson Street about 7:25 p.m. July 30 when
he saw six law-enforcement officers surrounding a man seated on a planter box at a transit station. He said he took a photograph from a public sidewalk of Saulet, who told him to leave or risk arrest. Holden filed complaints with the Sheriff’s Office and the Seattle Police Department over the incident. In January, a Seattle police officer, John Marion, was suspended for a day without pay for acting unprofessionally during the incident. Holden wrote that Marion threatened to harass him at his place of work. Urquhart, citing evidence gathered in an internal investigation, found that Saulet abused his authority in his dealings with Holden and attempted to “recast events” in a more favorable light. Contrary to Saulet’s assertion that he engaged in a “social contact” in which he told Holden he couldn’t ride his bike on King County Metro property, Saulet expressly or implicitly threatened to arrest Holden while incorrectly identi-
fying public property as private property, Urquhart wrote in the letter. “Your ill-advised actions also play to some of the most basic fears among some citizens, which is that a police officer may indiscriminately exercise his or her power in violation of their rights, because in the event of a complaint, the officer will just deny the allegation and ‘circle the wagons’ with his or her fellow officers on the expectation they will take care of their own,” Urquhart wrote. In Saulet’s case, two deputies denied a statement in which Saulet asserted they also told Holden he couldn’t ride on Metro property. Urquhart also noted that the event was part of a “larger pattern” in Saulet’s employment history. Saulet was demoted from sergeant last year after Urquhart found he had harassed a family in a vehicle that had made a wrong turn into an area reserved for King County Metro Transit vehicles. Overall, Urquhart wrote, Saulet had been the subject of
about 120 allegations, with 21 sustained. Saulet had racked up more complaints on the force than any other King County deputy, according to a demotion letter previously obtained by the Stranger. “You have been repeatedly told you need to improve your interaction with people, coached and counseled on methods for doing so, and warned of the potential consequences of further problems,” Urquhart wrote in the Jan. 30 letter. Saulet, whose positive contributions and courage were noted by Urquhart in the letter, may ask his union if it is willing to appeal to an arbitrator. Holden said he was pleased with what he called a “thorough investigation,” the outcome of which “sends a clear message” that misconduct and abuse of civilian rights will not be tolerated. He said the result ultimately strengthens the Sheriff’s Office, because people can trust that deputies will be held to the same standard as the people they protect.
Judge orders files on teacher’s firing released Case one of three concerning records about misconduct The Spokesman-Review, Spokane
uestions about whether the public has a right to know details of alleged teacher misconduct are the subject of three separate court actions involving Spokane-area school districts in recent weeks. In one case, a Washington appeals court ruled in January that a Riverside High School teacher has no right to block the release of official records regarding his sexual encounter with a former student that led to his dismissal. A three-judge panel rejected the appeal of former teacher Allen Martin, who sought to keep Riverside School District from releasing the investigation into the incident after The SpokesmanReview asked for the records under the state Public Records Act.
Martin was eventually fired for having sex with the former student in his classroom. He argued the investigation records should be withheld from public view because they would violate his privacy and are part of his personal employee data. Although he admitted to the action, he argued the relationship was with a consenting adult, not a current student, and did not happen while he was performing his public duties. The court disagreed. The fact that certain information is embarrassing isn’t enough to bar its release under the law, the panel said in its unanimous ruling. “Mr. Martin had a sexual encounter on school grounds, with a former student, during a holiday in the school year,” the panel said. “The district considered this conduct an inappropriate use of a school facility and a complete disregard for the school environment.” The public has a legitimate
interest in knowing about substantiated allegations of teacher misconduct occurring on public school grounds, the court said. It also has a legitimate interest in knowing how the district investigated and handled the matter. In a ruling last month, the same panel ordered a partial release of records regarding a Shadle Park High School counselor and a Glover Middle School teacher who were each placed on leave while allegations of misconduct were investigated. Both had denied the allegations. A trial court ruled the public has a legitimate concern in learning what steps the district took in its investigations and ordered the records released with the names removed to preserve their privacy rights. The appeals court agreed, saying the right to privacy applies “only to the intimate details of one’s personal and private life.” The teacher and the counselor have a right to have their names redacted from the documents because
the misconduct has not yet been substantiated, it said. The redacted records must be disclosed under state law even though someone may be able to determine the names that were blacked out, the court said. Meanwhile, four Spokane Public Schools employees who are on paid administrative leave filed suit against the district and the parent company of the SpokesmanReview to block the release of other records. All four are on leave while the district investigates allegations of misconduct which they contend are either false or unrelated to their jobs. They want the court to block the district from giving the newspaper a list of employees who are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. “Disclosure of the records is clearly not in the public interest and would substantially and irreparably harm” the four employees, the lawsuit claims.
Clark County pays in botched records request Lawsuit dropped after response found on failed hard drive The Columbian, Vancouver
lark County officials paid nearly $5,000 to a Vancouver man after acknowledging he did not receive public records in a timely manner. In mid-December, Ed Ruttledge filed a lawsuit against the county for neglecting to respond to a May 31 public disclosure request. Ruttledge’s request was for documents related to Republican Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke’s May 1 appointment of state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, to the position of director of environmental services. The lawsuit was withdrawn the following day after an emailed response from the county was discovered on Ruttledge’s hard drive, which had failed. Chris Horne, the county’s chief civil deputy prosecutor, said Jan. 28 that after the lawsuit was withdrawn, the county went ahead and paid Ruttledge following the realization he had not received all of the pertinent documents. Under state law, agencies have five days to respond to a public records request. The agency can provide the documents, explain why the documents are exempted from public disclosure or give an estimated wait time for fulfilling the request. Agencies can be fined between $5 and $100 a day for each day a request goes ignored. Ruttledge received $4,825, according to a copy of a settlement agreement dated Dec. 20. Horne said he thought that was a reasonable amount. Ruttledge’s lawsuit had sought the maximum penalty of $100 a day. The county was several months late in providing the documents. The settlement agreement, signed by Clark County Risk Manager Mark Wilson, said the agreement shouldn’t be construed as an admission of liability and that the county “intends merely to avoid litigation and buy its peace.” See REQUEST, page 5
Benton judge blocks release bid for sex offender list Judge says plaintiff has ‘no legitimate interest’ in record Tri-City Herald
Tri-City judge ruled Jan. 29 the personal information of low-level sex offenders in Benton County is not public information and shouldn’t be released to a Mesa woman. Judge Bruce Spanner’s ruling comes after more than a month of deliberation about whether the
data should be released to Donna Zink. Zink has no “legitimate interest” in it, Spanner wrote in his 13-page decision. The information, if released, would cause irreparable harm to more than 400 Level 1 sex offenders. Spanner said the information is considered confidential under other state and federal statutes and therefore is exempt from release. “There is no showing that the information requested is either relevant or necessary,” Spanner
wrote. “Our Supreme Court has determined that Level 1 sex offender registration is in most instances ‘confidential’ and that the public has ‘no legitimate’ interest therein because those offenders do not pose any threat to the community.” Zink — the former mayor of Mesa who sued the city in 2003 for withholding other kinds of public documents — requested in July the names, birth dates, addresses, pictures and other information of the Level 1 offenders.
She requested the same information from Franklin County, and it has been released. Zink has been in a legal fight with several Tri-City lawyers since making her request. She has said she plans to create an online database of the offenders because she believes people should know where someone convicted of any type of sex offense is living. She has said in court that Level 1 offenders can be dangerous, citing a recent Richland case in which a low-level offender is charged with raping and killing an infant.
Registration information for Level 2 and 3 offenders is routinely posted on sheriff department websites. But Level 1 offenders are considered the least likely to reoffend, and their information is not made public unless they fail to register. The Benton County Superior Court ruling, however, only blocks the release of the personal information of 14 sex offenders. Richland attorney John Ziobro, who represents those offenders, was the first to have his case for a See LIST, page 6
QVPR names new editor
Michael Dashiell/Sequim Gazette
‘Hoop and Harm’ won first place in the Best Black and White Sports Action or Feature Photo category, Circulation Groups II-IV Combined, for Michael Dashiell and the Sequim Gazette in the 2013 Washington Better Newspaper Contest.
he Wenatchee World has named Jill FitzSimmons editor of the Quincy Valley PostRegister, which launched a redesigned print edition last month and plans a new, stronger website later in the year. FitzSimmons, who joined the staff in December, succeeded Jeanne Archambeault, who left the paper. Prior to the print redesign, QVPR changed its distribution from mail to carrier delivery inside the city limits, and it also became a free paper earlier last year. FitzSimmons said she got some calls from readers about these changes but hopes in the long run that they make the paper more efficient and reader friendly. For the past three years she has managed the Cashmere Chamber of Commerce, calling on her 20 years of experience as a reporter at daily newspapers and a freelance writer. “Chamber work is a ton of writing, a lot of communication,” she said. “It’s kind of a natural fit for a reporter because you’re dealing with so many personalities.” The editor’s job is FitzSimmons’ first at a weekly. She quickly outlined advantages of serving as editor in Quincy, including that the growing high tech industry puts Quincy in a situation like no other town in the state.
Poll: Towns rely on local papers Surprisingly, a third of small-town homes don’t have Internet Newspaper Association of America
wo-thirds of residents in small towns across America depend upon their local newspaper for news and information, according to the National Newspaper Association’s most recent national newspaper readership survey. NNA, founded in 1885, represents 2,200 members across the U.S. Its mission is to protect, promote and enhance America’s community newspapers. Most of its members are weekly or small daily newspapers in smaller or niche communities. The survey noted that more readers are using mobile devices to shop, read and communicate. The number with smartphones jumped from 24 percent to 45 percent and 39 percent said they used the phones to access local news. Newspaper websites remained the leading provider of local news, followed distantly by a local TV station’s site and then by national aggregators, such as Google and Yahoo. The annual NNA Community Newspaper Readership survey was completed in 2013 in partnership with the Center for Advanced Social Research of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of
• 94 percent of readers agreed that the newspapers were informative. • 80 percent said that they and their families looked forward to reading the newspapers. • 78 percent relied on the newspapers for local news and information. • 72 percent said the newspapers entertained them. Missouri. Surveyors reached 508 households in communities where a local newspaper of circulation of 15,000 or less served the communities.The survey began in 2005. It has consistently shown the community newspaper to be the information leader in smaller communities. Trust in the local newspaper remains high, the survey found. Overall, readers in the 2013 survey gave high ratings to the accuracy, coverage, quality of writing and fairness of news reporting of the local print newspapers. In “coverage of local news,” “quality of writing” and “fairness of reporting,” their combined ratings were higher than in 2012. Local readers also like to share their newspaper with others. The “pass-along rate” of the primary subscriber’s sharing with others rose in 2013 to 2.48, compared to 2.18 in 2012 and 2.33 in 2011, possibly indicating continued
economic pressure from the fallout of the Great Recession as families economize by purchasing fewer individual copies. Striking was the finding that nearly one-third of households still do not have Internet access at home. The finding parallels similar conclusions from the U.S. Census Bureau and others that continue to report slow growth in Internet penetration across smaller, and particularly rural, communities. NNA President Robert M. Williams Jr., publisher of the Blackshear (Ga.) Times, remarked that the RJI research consistently shows the community newspaper as the dominant information medium in their communities. “We know that it is very difficult for a good community to survive without a good newspaper and vice versa,” Williams said. “The high levels of trust, the consistent pass-along rate and the desire to find the newspaper in whatever medium the reader wishes to use—whether mobile, print or Web—demonstrate the value of good community journalism.” FIND YOUR 25-HOUR DAY
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The Quincy Valley Post-Register plans to update its website under new editor Jill FitzSimmons. “It’s an exciting time to be in Quincy now,” she said. “This is a very welcoming community. They are so excited to see me at meetings. In the beginning they were calling me out.” Helping to meet her goal of packing the paper with news are longtime sports reporter/ photographer Kurtis J. Woods, who also covers education, and a regular freelancer, Tammara Green, who writes features and covers George and is adding business stories to her responsibilities. FitzSimmons’ opportunities for learning the ins and outs of producing a weekly on three long days, Monday through Wednesday, has provided her husband, Cal FitzSimmons, the opportunity to flex with her career, similarly to how she flexed for his career early in their life together. She had graduated from the journalism program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1992, then served as lifestyles editor at the Mesabi Daily News in Virginia, Minn.,
before moving to the Northwest. Though she landed at the East Oregonian in Pendleton, she soon met Cal and followed him to the Tri-Cities, where he was working at the Tri-City Herald. She signed on there as a reporter. The couple later moved to Missoula, Mont, where Jill stepped back from a newsroom to freelance for newspapers and magazines and as a copywriter while raising the family’s three children. Later they moved to Longview when Cal was promoted to editor there, and Jill continued freelancing. In 2010, the family settled in East Wenatchee, where Cal accepted the editor’s job at the Wenatchee World. In addition to Cal’s willingness to take over some of the transportation responsibilities for their 16-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 12 and 14, he is willing to talk shop. When she asked her husband if he was getting bored with her talking about the newspaper all the time, he said, “No, works for me.”
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Herald’s Varga dies at 66 Longtime Mirror Fellow journalists employee passes hail photographer’s work, dedication Daily Herald, Everett
rank Varga, known for his passionate commitment to the craft of photography during a 14-year career at the Herald in Everett and nearly two decades at the Skagit Valley Herald, has died. Varga covered major breaking news events, including last year’s collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River. He also took special pride in documenting the everyday events of people’s lives, said Scott Terrell, photo editor of the Skagit Valley Herald in Mount Vernon. Varga anguished over his assignments “because he wanted to take a photo that would communicate to the public exactly what the story was about,” Terrell said. “It didn’t matter what the story was, whether it was the I-5 bridge or a classroom full of kids watching an egg hatch. He would get as enthusiastic about either one.” Varga, 66, died Jan. 31at
Providence Regional Medical Center Everett after being treated for a brain hemorrhage. He was just months Frank Varga away from retirement when he died, telling Colette Weeks, the newspaper’s editor, that he would probably leave the paper later this year. “Frank was all about integrity,” Weeks said. “He cared so much about what we do. He felt things so intensely. It was never just a job for Frank.” Newsroom employees considered Varga not just a coworker, but as a friend, she said. Half the staff drove to Everett after he was hospitalized there on Jan. 29, she said. “He just made that kind of impact on people.” Varga was born on Sept. 19, 1947. He served in the Army in Vietnam where he learned about cameras and photography. Varga moved to Everett from Nebraska in the late 1970s. He met his longtime friend and neighbor Bob Schroepfer in 1978 in the
photography lab at Everett Community College. Varga started his career at the Herald in 1980, remaining until 1994. He was hired later that year by the Skagit Valley Herald. Varga moved to Camano Island when Schroepfer and his wife, Amy Schroepfer, moved there in 1990. “Frank loved people and he loved taking pictures,” Bob Schroepfer said. Weeks called Varga one of the most dedicated people she had ever encountered in journalism. “He was intense as journalists can be, and we loved him for it,” she said. Photographer Dan Bates, who has worked at the Herald since 1984, often covered events with Varga, including Seahawks and Mariners games. Before the era of Photoshop, Varga often worked with Bates on photo illustrations in the Herald’s basement photo studio. He had a knack for teasing the extraordinary out of the ordinary, Bates said. “He made something really good when no one expected much of anything,” Bates said. “That’s the mark of a good photographer. He definitely was one.”
Tacoma seeks circular probe
Resolution follows complaints from neighborhoods The News Tribune, Tacoma
he Tacoma City Council passed a resolution Feb. 11 directing City Manager T.C. Broadnax to talk with the News Tribune’s leaders and seek a resolution to concerns some city residents have about advertising circulars delivered to their neighborhoods. Residents who spoke at the City Council meeting that evening said advertising-filled orange bags delivered by vendors for the News Tribune are ending up on the street, gutter or sidewalks. The program began a few weeks ago. South Tacoma resident Lenny Long approached the council chambers’ lectern with a black trash bag full of circulars he said he collected during a five-block walk. “They were everywhere but
the front porch,” Long told the council. Others said the circulars could be a “crime magnet” if they accumulated in front of vacant homes. “We just want the News Tribune to be a respectful citizen like the rest of us,” said South Tacoma resident Cheryl Kopec, who was one of six people who addressed the council on the issue. David Zeeck, News Tribune publisher, said ideally the advertising insert would land on a resident’s driveway or the sidewalk leading to the home — and not in the street. “I look forward to talking with the city manager to hear his perception of what most concerns people,” Zeeck said. “We are in the business to support good, local journalism and help businesses succeed through advertising. We would like to do that in a way that doesn’t upset people.” Only a fraction of homes in the city of Tacoma currently receive the inserts, which go to neighborhoods selected by
the advertisers, Zeeck said. The council’s resolution said 50,000 circulars are delivered weekly, but Zeeck said the actual number is about half that. To opt out or report improper delivery, residents can email or call the newspaper. Zeeck said it can take up to two weeks to halt delivery. Mayor Marilyn Strickland said City Council members have been “bombarded” with complaints about the circulars. “This is our way of demonstrating we are listening to our public and we are still committed to our core value of being a clean, safe and attractive neighborhood,” Strickland said at the meeting. “Nobody wants the News Tribune to go out of business. A city the size of Tacoma should have a daily paper.” The resolution directs Broadnax to report back to the City Council about the discussions.
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The documents not received by Ruttledge, Horne said, included confirmation of the county’s professional errors and omissions insurance. Ruttledge had inquired whether the county has that type of liability insurance, Horne said. Horne said staff members in the commissioners’ office who responded to Ruttledge’s request didn’t include the document. By the time Ruttledge’s request made it to Horne’s office, it was well past the deadline. Ruttledge’s settlement ends one of two legal actions
prompted by the Benton hiring, which was characterized by Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Democrat, as “political cronyism” and by then-Administrator Bill Barron as going against standard hiring protocol. Benton didn’t meet many requirements listed in the job description on the county’s website, and Ruttledge’s request centered around whether relevant changes had been made to the county’s human resources policy manual prior to Benton’s appointment. Ruttledge said Jan. 27 that he
didn’t receive any documents showing that was the case. Ruttledge was represented by Vancouver attorney Greg Ferguson, who also represents Anita Largent. Largent, the former interim director of environmental services, filed a lawsuit in Clark County Superior Court on Dec. 18, alleging the Benton appointment violated county policy promising equal employment opportunity, nondiscrimination and fairness in hiring.
Paper establishes essay scholarship to honor Goss Federal Way Mirror
ary Louise Goss asked many people she knew: “What would you do
better?” The longtime Mirror employee, who died of lung cancer on Feb. 9, was known for challenging those she knew to improve themselves and the world around them. In her honor, the Mirror has set up a scholarship fund in her name available to Decatur High School students. “Mary Lou was a proud Decatur mom and she would have wanted it no other way,” said Rudi Alcott, Mirror publisher. “We will continue Mary Lou’s challenge to Decatur students by asking them to submit an essay every February based on her simple but provocative question.” The student with the winning essay will receive a $500 scholarship. Goss was born on May 22, 1957, in Windsor, Ont., Canada, to parents Court and Helen Lossing. She moved to the U.S. at age 8 when her father, an executive with Ford Motor Co., was transferred to the headquarters in Detroit. She graduated from Lahser High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Goss was a Federal Way resident for 25 years and her passions included her daughters, grandson, shoes, the Federal Way community and the Mirror. She started at the Mirror eight years ago in advertising, moving to the front desk as the office manager and greeting all who came in to the Mirror office with her positivity. “Every office has one indispensable person. That’s the person everyone likes, trusts, respects and confides in,” said Bob Roegner, a longtime friend of Goss and a columnist for the Mirror. “That person knows where everything is and why things are the way they are … That person greets every day with a smile and keeps it no matter what challenge is being faced. That person can always be counted on, in good times
and bad. That person face’s adversity in a way all of us wish we could, but know we probably can’t. That person is who we strive Mary Louise to be and usuGoss ally fall short. That person is someone we are proud to know and call our friend. That person will be missed beyond belief. To us, that person was Mary Lou.” Alcott recalled when he received a nervous call from Goss, who asked him to meet her in the parking lot at the Quad. “I arrived there and she was standing in the bright sunshine, dressed elegantly as usual. I got out of the car and she immediately started crying as she told me of her diagnosis,” Alcott said. “I too was crying at this time and then the strangest thing happened. She looked up at me and said she wasn’t crying because she was diagnosed with cancer, she was crying because of the affect this would have on me and the Mirror. I was absolutely dumbstruck. That act of incredible selflessness, in spite of everything that she was going through, cannot be faked and illustrated the essence of what Mary Lou was and always will be.” He said that was just one of many impressions that Mary Lou left on him. “She was, and is, a special, special human being and she alone gives me faith in the human race,” Alcott added. Alcott renamed the newspaper’s conference room to the Mary Louise Goss Conference Room and will include her name on the newspaper roster in perpetuity, to remind all who enter the office that her spirit lives on. Goss is survived by daughters Kristen and Courtney, grandson Zakary, her husband of 26 years, Phil, and brother John. Her parents preceded her in death. Remembrances can be made to the Mary Louise Goss Educational Scholarship for Decatur High School, c/o Heritage Bank, Attn: Janice Siebenaler, 32303 Pacific Hwy. S, Federal Way, WA 98003.
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of Washington in business. He had family in Dayton and moved there with his wife in 1996, when he bought a local real estate business. The couple continues to live outside of Dayton. Matthee moved back to Bainbridge Island a year and a half ago and currently serves as executive director of Washington State Smile Partners, a nonprofit providing preventative dental hygiene to low-income kids and seniors in the Puget Sound area. Matthee bought the Times from Loyal and Kathy Baker in November 2009 and made significant improvements to the newspaper and its building, initially with the help of his wife, Karen. Under his ownership, the
newspaper added pages, color, expanded sports coverage, a website and a Facebook page. And, with increased coverage of Dayton, he turned the Times into the go-to news source in the Touchet Valley. The Times secured status as a newspaper of record in Columbia County in 2011 and obtained the contract to publish legal notices for the City of Dayton the following year. It was already a newspaper of record for Walla Walla County. Graham said he has enjoyed his year as the Times’ editor and looks forward to a larger role. The Times was founded by entrepreneur C.W. Wheeler in 1878 and has been published continuously since then.
Meeting agenda bill sails through Washington House House Republican Caucus
bill related to public agencies posting meeting agendas online was approved by the House of Representatives Feb. 12 by a vote of 85-13. The legislation is part of an ongoing effort by Rep. Brad Hawkins to increase transparency in government. The state’s Open Public
Meetings Act, first enacted in 1971, only requires public agencies to issue notice of meetings (such as the date, time and location) and does not require public agencies to publish their meeting agendas. “This bill is a modest first step at updating the Open Public Meetings Act to reflect our online society. Posting agendas online is important to providing
more transparency in government,” said Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee. “This bill will help citizens know what a public agency plans to discuss so they can better determine if an issue is important to them.” House Bill 2105 would require that agendas be posted online by public agencies at least 24 hours prior to a meeting. The bill provides exceptions
for government entities without websites or with fewer than 10 full-time employees. It was approved by the House Government Operations & Elections Committee Jan. 22. The Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents more than 100 community newspapers in the state, along with other supporters, testified in favor of the legislation
Seahawks’ big win sends Times press run into OT
ue to enormous fan and reader demand following the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory on Feb. 2, the Seattle Times initiated a second press run of 35,000 for the Monday, Feb. 3, newspaper. The papers were available at normal retail outlets the following morning, Feb. 4, along with the Tuesday edition. Recognizing there would be
very high demand for the Feb. 3 paper, the Times had printed 106,000 copies more than the usual retail sales number for a typical Monday. A normal Monday run for retail sales (not including newspapers delivered to homes) is about 27,000 copies. The last time the Seattle Times performed a second press run was Sept. 11, 2001.
during the public hearing. “I’m pleased the House approved this legislation and I look forward to this being considered in the Senate. Hopefully, we can get this passed before the end of session,” said Hawkins. The legislation now goes to the Senate for further consideration. The 2014 session is scheduled to adjourn March 13.
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permanent injunction heard. Spanner granted the injunction, but it can be appealed to a higher court. “For my clients, it’s great,” Ziobro said. “I haven’t spoken to any of them, but I am sure they are ecstatic.” Lawyers for other clients told the Herald they are optimistic Spanner’s ruling will be applied to their cases. A temporary injunction was in place to prevent the county from releasing any low-level sex offender’s personal information. Benton County prosecutors do not agree with Spanner’s ruling, saying the information should be released to Zink. “There’s still a whole lot left up in the air,” said Ryan Lukson. Richland attorney Greg Dow represents 20 other Level 1 offenders and is trying to form a class-action lawsuit to provide the majority of Level 1 offenders legal representation so they also can try to prevent the release of their personal information. Spanner previously denied Dow’s request, but he’s filed an appeal. “There’s a lot of cleanup work left,” said Dow, who praised Spanner’s decision. “We need to find out what impact the judge thinks this has on the people who are not named as plaintiffs. There’s 390 guys out there wondering, ‘Am I protected or not?’” Zink, who has been representing herself, could not be reached about the decision but took to social media to blast the ruling. She said she is frustrated the court system is protecting sex offenders. Zink wrote that Spanner’s ruling will not stop her attempts to get the information. “After all this they would serious(ly) think I was going to roll over,” Zink wrote. “Let me give you a clue, when someone works this hard they are not going to quit. At least not till the Supreme Court weighs in. That is what appeals are for.” Zink has requested offender information from the Washington State Patrol database and from Yakima County. Temporary injunctions are in place in King County and Yakima County preventing the information from being released. The state American Civil Liberties Union has gotten involved in the case with the state patrol. ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said attorneys are reviewing Spanner’s decision. Zink also requested around 80,000 emails from Benton County. The emails contain sex offender information and other sensitive police information. Spanner ruled information in the emails not pertaining to sex offenders can be released to Zink.
LEGISLATIVE DAY: FEB. 19, 2014 All photos: Philip Watness / Skamania County Pioneer, Stevenson
RIGHT: At the Governorâ€™s Mansion, Gov. Jay Inslee, right, talks with, from right, Rosemary Browning, Philip Watness and Tommie Browning of DeVaul Publishing, Chehalis. BELOW: Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington Executive Director Rowland Thompson, right, gives a legislative briefing in the Senate Rules Room of the Legislative Building. From left are Neal Pattison, executive editor of the Daily Herald, Everett; Rex Wilson, executive editor of the Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles; and Stacey Cowles, publisher of the SpokesmanReview.
ABOVE: In the Temple of Justice reception room, Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzales, left, talks with Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen, and Jill Mackie, the Timesâ€™ vice president of public affairs, and Rowland Thompson. BELOW: Addressing transportation issues are from left, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, co-chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee; and Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, chair of the House Transportation Committee. Standing is Rowland Thompson. At right, Dave Cerul, a guest of the Columbia Basin Herald in Moses Lake, explains a point to publisher Harlan Beagley, managing editor Lynne Lynch, right, and reporter Leilani Leach, left. During the reception at the Temple of Justice, Supreme Court Justice Charles Johnson, left, talks with Gloria Fletcher, President of Sound Publishing, and George LeMasurier, publisher of the Olympian.
From left, Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens greets Eric Schwartz, editor of the Chronicle in Centralia, and Rex Wilson, executive editor of the Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles.