Editorial: Beachcomber changes format, enters a new era

It’s a new day at The Beachcomber.

With this issue, Vashon’s only weekly newspaper joins the ranks of its sister papers in Sound Publishing Inc., becoming a tabloid-sized as opposed to a broadsheet publication.

The change was made for two important reasons: It saves paper, and it reduces our production costs. Neither are small matters at a time when conservation is the watchword — and when newspapers across the country are dying slow deaths.

The Beachcomber, we’re happy to report, is financially healthy. But we don’t take that financial health for granted. Thus, we’re doing all we can, before we reach that horribly precarious place too many newspapers are in, to shore up our financial strength. Changing to a tabloid-sized newspaper is a step in that direction.

In the process of becoming a newly configured paper, we decided to make a few other changes.

Our masthead — or flag — is different, as is the font we use for our headlines, section headers and news stories.

Perhaps more important to readers, we’ve changed the format of our calendar. In the past, upcoming events could be found in a number of places in the paper — on the calendar page, the community page, the FYI page or the front-page blue strip — an approach that confused many readers.

With this issue, we’ve attempted to consolidate those entries, so that all of them — from arts events to government meetings — can be found on one two-page calendar spread. We’ve enhanced it a bit; what’s showing at the Vashon Theatre, for instance, will now grace those pages. And we’ll likely repeat some of the arts news in the arts pages, as we did this week.

The idea is to give readers an easy, centralized reference for all that’s upcoming; more in-depth news about many of those events will likely appear elsewhere.

We also put an end to the community page, which reported club news. Some of those items will now be found in the calendar; some will appear as short articles — “from the community” pieces. Others, such as reports of what clubs did at their previous gatherings, likely won’t make it into the paper.

And thanks to Island historian Bruce Haulman and landscape photographer Terry Donnelly, we offer up a new feature this week: “Time & Again” — a look at our historic past that will run about once a month. You’ll find the first installment on page A16.

But we’ll be honest with you. In making this change to our calendar, we kicked around two different approaches: Organizing the events by category (arts, music, meetings) or organizing them chronologically. We opted to organize by category. And we’d now like to know what you think.

Is it easier or harder to use? Clearer or more confusing? Readers have a tendency, of course, to let us know what they don’t like. We ask that you let us know if you do or don’t like it. Your responses will provide helpful feedback. E-mail them to editor@vashonbeachcomber.com.

Meanwhile, even while this publication uses a little less paper, it’s no lighter in substance or content. As in weeks past, this week’s issue is full of news, commentary, features and announcements — a reflection, we trust and hope, of Vashon’s vibrancy.

So relax, it’s the same ol’ Beachcomber ... just a little different.

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