This week marks my 40th anniversary at the Tribune! It’s not really the way I was hoping to celebrate, in the midst of a pandemic and civil unrest occurring across our country.
Many businesses in Whatcom County are finally starting to reopen this week as we enter Phase 2 of the pandemic recovery. The economic impact has been swift and dramatic, and many places may not have the resources to survive.
Our company is no different.
It was almost 106 years ago that my grandfather Sol Lewis arrived in Lynden from Seattle as the new 26-year-old publisher of the Lynden Tribune. He set high standards for the Lewis family in the field of community journalism — standards that he strove to meet on a weekly basis — surviving the depths of the Depression and difficult times of World War II.
Blessed with a common-sense approach, Grandpa Sol stood for decency, tolerance and fair play and tried to find a positive outlook in every situation. Through his editorials and influence he accomplished much in his 40-year career in Lynden. He was active and involved in community affairs. He was supportive, but he was also willing to take a stand, when necessary.
He instilled these values in his two sons, William and my father Julian, as they worked long hours growing Lewis Publishing Company and serving the community with award-winning newspapers. They were great mentors and established a tradition that we still strive for today at our newspapers in Lynden and Ferndale!
But as my editor Cal Bratt so eloquently wrote in his column on May 20, times are tough in the newspaper industry as our business model evolves. The number of newspapers is declining rapidly, as are the number of journalists. What the future looks like is being vigorously debated by scholars and experts.
My grandfather would be challenged to find the positive approach in the plight of the newspaper industry today.
Our revenue model needs to change. From primarily being supported by advertising from local businesses, festivals and events, we must rely on our readers and citizens finding value in the work our professional journalists do on a weekly basis. The New York Times, Washington Post and Seattle Times are successfully navigating this transition.
This is where I find hope, and your generosity is apparent in the form of new subscriptions and contributions totaling just over $8,500 since we launched our fundraising campaign three weeks ago.
All the proceeds raised during our campaign, which runs through this month, are dedicated to our efforts to continue providing top-quality community news coverage. Under the expert leadership of master editor Bratt, the staff has continued to provide high quality local news reporting despite working fewer hours during this crisis.
Just take a look at the effort that went into producing this week’s graduation sections in the Tribune and Record. Hopefully, the students, families, school administrators and community appreciate the tremendous time and staff commitment it took to produce this week’s special keepsake. And a huge thank-you to all the advertisers who made the section possible.
The Lewis family has been blessed to own and operate community newspapers for over a century in Whatcom County. Your support has been unwavering and words cannot adequately express how appreciative we are of your trust in us.
We will not waver from our standards and commitment to place the public interest and right to know above our own.— Michael D. Lewis