Monday, February 22, 2010

Whitehorse Community News Closes Its Doors

The Whitehorse Community News, a monthly newspaper in the Darrington, Wash., area with about 2,000 readers, is closing its doors, Mike Benbow and Michelle Dunlop of the Everett (Wash.) Hearld write.

The owner, Joe Day, said the paper paid its expenses, but didn’t provide much revenue for himself. It was a lot of work, he noted. Day said he hates to see the paper shut down, but that nobody has stepped forward to continue producing it.

Amy Rolph of the Herald wrote about the apparent one-man operation on her blog:
His doctor says it's time to walk away from the stress. And Day — worn down from years of proofreading and layout deadlines — finally agrees.

“Despite the growing public interest, our economy has dictated that the paper cannot stand on its own,” Day wrote in a letter to subscribers this month.

He broke tough news in the letter: “I don't have any money to pay back the unused portion of your subscription.”

So just like a growing number of larger newspapers across the country, Day's tiny labor of love ends with a sad finale: the farewell issue.

The Whitehorse Community news will print for the last time in early March.

“It'll be all right,” said Day, talking Tuesday afternoon from his home in Darrington. “I'm sad to see it go — and I'm really glad it's going. It's an incredible amount of work. It's really draining.”

In his February issue, Day solicited other community members to step up and take over the paper's publication. But so far, no one else seems to want to work for free, he said.

The paper's mission statement is printed on the second page of its February issue, featuring a conspicuous use of the past-tense.

“The purpose of this newspaper was to provide a forum for discussion, a platform for inexpensive business advertising, a source for local information and a place for aspiring writers to be published.”

Day said the paper served a more personal purpose, too. A former union electrician, he studied graphic design at Everett Community College after an injury left him unable to work.

“But nobody wanted to hire a 53-year-old graphic designer who had no practical experience,” Day said. “That was quite a blow for me. I had to do something with my time.”

Day told Rolph that he never saw a reason for a website: “(The website) never materialized, and I didn't see any reason for it anyway. It's just for Darrington, a way to give folks around here a voice.”

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