Newspaper returns to broadsheet format, moves to new home

No, you aren’t imagining things.

Yes, the Whidbey News-Times-South Whidbey Record you’re holding in your hands looks and feels different. That’s because it is bigger and, I think, better. For some of our longtime readers, this new format may be familiar. That’s because we have, in a sense, come full circle.

In more ways than one.

Starting with today’s edition, the News-Times is being published in what’s known in the industry as a “broadsheet.” It’s the same width as before, but twice as long. This change comes more than 20 years after the paper was converted to a tabloid format, likely for some of the same reasons we’re switching back.

Arguably, the paper’s appearance is now more traditional. For over 100 years, this newspaper and its predecessors were printed as broadsheets. When I started at the newspaper as a reporter in 1986, the News-Times was a broadsheet. Sometime after I left the News-Times in 1994 to take an editor and publisher position at another newspaper, the decision was made to change to tabloid format.

Why the change back to broadsheet? Why now?

Our sister newspapers that publish daily, The Herald, in Everett, and Peninsula Daily News, in Port Angeles, were already broadsheets. When those papers came off of the press that we all share, enormous rolls of newsprint needed to be traded out. That may not sound like a big deal, but consider the fact that a roll of newsprint can weigh upwards of 900 lbs. and are moved with forklifts.

It’s kind of a big deal.

In addition to the time and expense of replacing newsprint rolls on the press, there’s the logistics of purchasing and storing different sizes of paper.

To put it simply, the switch to broadsheet makes sense financially and logistically.

Like many other businesses in the community — and across the country — the pandemic led us to reexamine and reinvent how we do things. To survive, we made changes in areas that once seemed untouchable. We consolidated the News-Times and South Whidbey Record into an islandwide paper. Intrestingly, the response was largely positive.

In addition to cutting hours from full-time to 24 hours per week for some staff, and furloughing others, as a company we terminated our contract with the vendor that facilitated the commenting on our websites, whidbeynewstimes.com and southwhidbeyrecord.com.

Where office hours were the historical norm for us, suddenly we were figuring out how to do all of our work from home. Now that we’ve begun our return to the office, it’s become apparent that boundaries between our personal and work lives often became blurred.

Speaking of office, that’s changed as well.

As of the first week of June, the News-Times returned to its “home” at 800 S.E. Barrington Drive in Oak Harbor after our 10-year lease in Coupeville ended.

The newspaper now occupies the second-floor of the building, which is owned by our parent company, Sound Publishing. Garage of Blessings is the tenant on the first floor.

We’re still unpacking boxes and getting our work spaces reassembled. It’s a challenge, but challenges are pretty much expected these days.

My new office was originally inhabited by my mentor and late News-Times co-owner Wallie Funk. The weight of that office, and newspaper’s 128-year history isn’t lost on me. I can still recall being in awe of amount of art and mementos that covered the walls in Wallie’s office.

The entire building was buzzing, if not with people, with the old web press spitting out papers.

Broadsheets, of course.

Keven R. Graves is executive editor and publisher of the Whidbey News-Times. His email is kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com

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