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UPDATE: News-Times, Record to share offices in Coupeville
Whidbey News-Times Publisher Marcia Van Dyke announced this week that the newspaper is moving its office from Oak Harbor to Coupeville because the current, aging building on SE Barrington Drive is too large for the staff and too expensive to maintain.
Faced with the dilemma of finding new office space, Van Dyke decided to consolidate space with its sister newspaper, the South Whidbey Record.
“The two newspapers will be able to share other valuable resources. By sharing the best assets of each newspaper in every department, we will see an improved product in both markets,” said Van Dyke, who is publisher of both papers.
Van Dyke said the move will not affect news coverage, the papers’ commitment to the Oak Harbor and South Whidbey communities, or the look of the papers. The two newspapers already share a number of management-level employees.
The two Sound Publishing-owned newspapers will remain separate, editorially independent news entities that cover the different communities of Whidbey Island. There are no plans to change from a twice-weekly newspaper. There will not be a staff reduction.
More people are reading the News-Times and South Whidbey Record than ever before, even though print circulation has declined in recent years. The printed News-Times has a readership of 15,000 people, while the Record’s readership is nearly 10,000. The News-Times is developing a strong and growing Web presence, with 31,000 unique visitors making 270,000 pageviews last month. The Record has 14,000 unique visitors each month.
It is well known that newspapers across the country are struggling to survive in the face of tough economic times and the rise of the Internet. For Sound Publishing, the move will cut overhead costs and keep the newspapers vibrant for years to come.
“In looking at alternative sites, we decided that maintaining one office for our two newspapers would be the most cost effective and efficient way to run our business,” Van Dyke said.
The Whidbey News-Times building is falling apart and extremely cost-prohibitive to maintain, so Van Dyke has been exploring other options for office space. She decided on a building in Coupe’s Village, on the south end of Coupeville, that has an energy-efficient building large enough for the two newspaper offices.
The News-Times has a long history on Central Whidbey. The Island County Times was established in Coupeville in 1891. Publisher A. Glenn Smith merged the Island County Times with the Oak Harbor News in 1959, creating the Whidbey News-Times.
“This is the last issue of the proud old Island County News established in 1891 in Coupeville, and one of the oldest weeklies in the State of Washington,” Smith wrote in the Sept. 24, 1959 edition of the Island County News.
Van Dyke said, “I want to assure all of our readers and advertisers on Whidbey Island that this move in no way changes our commitment to producing the best quality news known on Whidbey Island. We plan to be as present in Oak Harbor and Langley as we have always been and will continue to support those organizations, non-profits and community projects and events with the same enthusiasm as has been our tradition.”
Van Dyke said she will miss the old News-Times building on Barrington Ave., despite its drawbacks.
“I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life here,” she said. “That’s longer than I’ve lived in any house.”
Both papers are scheduled to complete the move to the new Coupeville office in early April. The South Whidbey Record has been renting space in the historic Bayview Cash Store in recent years. The News-Times property in Oak Harbor, located next to the police station and across the street from City Hall, is on the market for $750,000.