Sound Publishing, the parent company of The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, has announced plans to temporarily reduce staffing and suspend most print publications, with employees furloughed or directed to work limited hours.
Company-wide, more than 500 people were affected by the decision.
At The Beachcomber, Editor Kevin Opsahl, Reporter and Calendar Editor Kate Dowling, and Reporter and Arts Editor Elizabeth Shepherd were furloughed effective Tuesday before press time, tentatively through April 24. Publisher Daralyn Anderson and Reporter Paul Rowley were moved to 24-hour workweeks.
The Beachcomber will produce a print paper for April 2 but could transition to digital-only in the weeks ahead. In that case, readers will still be able to follow local news stories and breaking developments as they happen online, as reduced staffing allows.
The news comes one week after Sound Publishing had announced a previous round of layoffs and shortened works weeks for many other employees. The staffing decisions were the result of significantly decreased advertising revenue amid the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We are deeply saddened to lose, even if temporarily, such committed and talented community reporters and writers at The Beachcomber, especially at a time when accurate news and information has never been more essential,” said Anderson. “We will continue to work hard and to produce the high-quality journalism to which our readers are accustomed with the resources available while we assess how best to do our critical work during this moment. Our unique and supportive community is too important to us to do otherwise.”
Looking forward, readers are encouraged to submit letters, op-eds and story tips by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call directly at 206-504-1878. The office remains closed to the public in the interest of recommendations about social distancing from Public Health – Seattle & King County, but readers can deposit correspondence through the door slot at 17141 Vashon Hwy SW, STE B, next to the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce.
Sound Publishing owns 49 community newspapers in Washington and Alaska. It is a subsidiary of Black Press, Ltd. of Canada.