Today we are facing unprecedented challenges as Puget Sound and the world fight the COVID-19 pandemic. That fight has also brought tremendous change that is testing us all.
The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, the island newspaper of record, is no stranger to the change taking place in the world today. It came to our small newsroom last week when we said goodbye, for now, to most of our reporting staff, who have been furloughed.
A survey distributed by the Vashon Chamber of Commerce last week found that 38% of island businesses have closed due to the virus. 81% reported that their revenue has fallen. And 27% have laid off their employees. Like many businesses, this pandemic is also exerting financial pressures on Sound Publishing, the parent company of The Beachcomber. And those pressures cost several talented, passionate local journalists their jobs.
This was rightfully upsetting to many. Trusted local news has never been more important, or more vulnerable.
On Wednesday, the reporter writing this editorial started his first day at the office alone, when officials from Public Health – Seattle & King County announced that an islander tested positive for COVID-19. Certainly, the virus may have already been here, undetected as it was in many places. We know it is here now.
But that day was unimaginable: A global pandemic touches down on the shores of a remote community left with a fraction of the newspaper it had the day before.
Vashon was never immune to this disease, but the island can resist it. The Beachcomber was never invulnerable to the forces extinguishing local journalism all over the nation. But we are not going to leave you without a newspaper.
The Beachcomber will be bringing you the most up-to-date information and breaking news as staffing allows. We are lifting our online paywall on stories about the virus to give essential news to the greatest number of people. This allows full access to stories about the coronavirus free of charge. If you hit the paywall, let us know. If you are a subscriber, you have access not only to this information but to all of our other reporting as well.
In the future, the print paper may transition to an online-only publication until we weather this storm. You will still see the news and information that is relevant to you and your lives on Vashon, but the delivery method could change.
Our biggest priority has been to preserve our ability to perform our public service mission and to keep our community informed. That will never change.
We hope that you value our work and can support us in this important mission by becoming a subscriber today. To become a print and/or digital subscriber, visit vashonbeachcomber.com and click on “Subscribe” in the right corner of the homepage. Support may also be made in the form of donations and/or by placing ads. Purchasing advertising is key to keeping this paper in print. To do so, email email@example.com.
The Beachcomber’s main office — next door to the Chamber — is closed to the public. But you are welcome to share correspondence with us through the mail slot in the door. You can also contact reporter Paul Rowley with news tips, letters to the editor, complaints or just to chat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are with you in this difficult time. Thank you for reading.