Last week saw a changing of the guard in media circles here on the Olympic Peninsula. You may have missed it, but more than likely — if you are a regular local newspaper reader — you did not.
We celebrated (and mourned) the retirement of longtime journalist John Brewer, editor/publisher of the Peninsula Daily News for the past 18 years and, for the past four years, for this publication, the Forks Forum and Home-Land Magazine real estate publication.
John steps away from a five-decade-long career in the business, earning a well-deserved break. I write “break” because it’s still to be seen if he can actually stay away from the newsroom. I thought that, like several other lifelong scribes, John would be a permanent fixture in his Port Angeles office, always keeping an eye on the inner workings, the printed product and digital offerings along with numerous community projects he’s been involved in while at the PDN.
It was with some surprise and disappointment when I heard he’d be stepping down some weeks ago, though the grin on his face as he accepted well wishes and glad tidings from former and current staffers last week said it all. I wish him well.
I didn’t get to work with John until the last four years of his PDN career, after Sound Publishing purchased the three newspapers on the Olympic Peninsula in October 2011. Until then, the PDN was our source of healthy competition, and therefor John was an enemy of sorts. Not long after the purchase he became my boss, and since then we’ve developed a working relationship I’ll be forever grateful for, as I’ve learned from one of the top journalists I’m likely to ever meet.
With John’s retirement, along with PDN executive editor Rex Wilson’s departure in August, so begins a new era for the peninsula’s media. Newcomer Terry Ward now oversees the PDN and the two weeklies for Sound Publishing Inc., the largest publisher of community newspapers in the state.
I had a chance to catch up with Terry a bit at the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA) conference last weekend in Everett. It seems it’s an exciting time for newspapers, as I’m always reminded when I attend this annual conference. While some of our time was spent celebrating good journalism from across the state (see local awards below), we also talked about how to serve our communities better. We learned about success stories from across the state, how community newspapers are making the leap from print only to a mix of print and digital, how papers are surviving — and thriving — in the midst of all this blinding technological advancement.
We hope you continue reading, interacting and giving us feedback as we grow into whatever the future holds for the Gazette and our fellow newspapers.
Gazette earns statewide awards
At the aforementioned WNPA conference, your Sequim Gazette earned some hardware for strong journalistic efforts.
The WNPA’s Better Newspaper Contest recognizes top submittals from April 2014-March 2015 in a number of categories in news/editorial, photography, web, advertising and general excellence — a category in which newspapers are judged on a number of criteria. Some awards are based on circulation and the association has four divisions — four being the largest.
The Sequim Gazette earned third place in general excellence in Group III, the second-largest circulation group. (The Mason County Journal took first place, the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle second.)
Reporter Alana Linderoth was named WNPA’s Newswriter of the Year (all divisions). She also was awarded third place in Best Health or Medical Story (Groups III, IV) for “Living with Alzheimer’s” (Aug. 26, 2014) and third place in Best Color Feature Photo (Group III) for “Another big lavender weekend.”
Reporter Matthew Nash was named WNPA’s Feature Writer of the Year (all divisions); he also won the award in 2012.
Nash’s other awards include: first place in Best General Feature Story-Long (Group III) for “One man’s flight, a community effort” (Sept. 3, 2014); first and second place for black-and-white feature photo (all divisions) for “Wolves headed to districts” and “Gross times for all,” respectively; first place for Best Color Sports Photo-Action (Group III) for “Roping, riding … and falling”; second place in Best Sports Personality Profile (Group III) for “Braving the waters” (Nov. 25, 2014), and third place in Best Lifestyle Feature Story (Groups III, IV) for “An ollie a day” (Jan. 7, 2015).
Special Sections Editor Patricia Morrison Coate won Best Arts Story (Groups III, IV) for “Crafting projects for young minds” (May 28, 2014).
She also took home second place Best Lifestyle Feature Story (Groups III, IV) for “A diamond in the rough” (July 30, 2014), and third place in Best Lifestyle/Culture Special Sections (Groups III, IV) for “Living on the Peninsula: People Sharing Their Passion.”
Editor Michael Dashiell earned second place in the Sportswriter of the Year (all divisions) category. He also earned third place in Best Feature Page Design (Group III) for the Gazette’s “Community” front page (Dec. 3, 2014) and third place for Best Editorial Pages (Groups III, IV).
Read more about other top WNPA winners, and more about the association, at www.wnpa.com.
Reach Sequim Gazette editor Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.