Laura Guido is the Woodinville Weekly's most recent hire and has spent the past six months helping transform the look and content of the paper as a reporter and page designer.
Laura, 25, was born and raised in Pullman Wash., and attended Pullman High School. It was there she developed an interest in the media industry.
"My favorite classes were English photography and broadcasting," Laura said. "Journalism seemed like a good way to utilize all of those skills. I also consider going into the film industry, and it seemed like it would translate pretty well if I decided to make that move."
After graduating high school, she went on to enroll at Washington State University but was still undecided on her career path.
“While considering studying journalism I learned that Wazzu had a program that was ranked in the top 25 for journalism programs throughout the country,” Laura said. “I had heard great things about the honors college. When I was accepted to the honors college, which allowed for a smaller more liberal arts-style court classes than typical of a large state university it was pretty easy decision to make.”
During her course of study, Laura had the opportunity to intern as a legislative correspondent in Olympia. The experience convinced her she had made the right choice.
“It was then I decided that community journalism was what I wanted to do,” Laura said. “It was exciting and important and made everything else seem less interesting to me.”
Laura went on to earn a communication degree with an emphasis on multimedia journalism. She minored in film studies in Spanish.
She graduated in May of 2017 and then spent a month traveling to Utah, Morocco, and Spain. In July, she landed her first job at the Whidbey News-Times in Coupeville.
“I coincidentally had two roommates (and close friends) in college who were from Coupeville, and I'd heard great things about the island,” Laura said. “I learned the paper had a pretty good reputation and I had people I could stay with when I first arrived while I looked for housing. It's also just a beautiful place to live.”
Laura was hired as a general assignment reporter and was assigned to cover county government, the Oak Harbor School District, the fire districts, hospital, Naval air station, and wrote random stories as well. She was her own photographer, took pictures for other reporters, and helped layout the paper too.
In February of 2020, Laura accepted a position as a designer/reporter at The Woodinville Weekly.
“I hadn't been seriously looking for another job when I came across this position on a Facebook page for WSU journalism alumni,” Laura said. “I was intrigued after talking to Eric (LaFontaine, owner/ publisher) about the job, and thought it might be nice to live somewhere with more young people …Whidbey Island is very much a retirement community.”
In the short time Laura has been with the paper, she’s come to appreciate the flexibility of her current position while also being able to communicate directly with its owner. Such was not the case with the corporate talking heads at the News-Times that is under the umbrella of Sound Publishing and owned by Black Press in Surrey, British Columbia.
“I feel like I have more of a say in what I do and how I do it. I've also been given a lot more freedom with how the paper is designed, and I can report on stories that interest me,” Laura said. “The Whidbey paper was great, but it came with a number of restrictions because it was owned by a very large publishing company. I was also only making $1 an hour more than the Washington state minimum wage, and it wasn't really enough to live in Western Washington.”
Laura added she didn't feel the executives at Sound Publishing were willing to fight for her position after seeing how much the Times-News newsroom and office had shrunk in the two and a half years she was employed. The state's largest community newspaper organization has since closed all but a handful of its 43 outlets and laid off hundreds of employees as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic.
The Weekly management, however, values Laura’s skill set and is doing everything possible to retain her and current staff despite the economic impact of COVID-19.
Revenue at the Weekly along with many other local establishments has dropped off dramatically. Businesses that typically advertise are operating on a limited budget.
The only way for newspapers like the Weekly to survive in times like these is for people to subscribe. It may seem like a finger in the dike type of scenario, but it's one that can help keep the lights on, help retain staff and keep the community informed of local news and events until the economy gets back on its feet.
The next time you see Laura out and about or read one of her articles reach out to her and offer your support. Her email is email@example.com. By supporting her you are also supporting the paper. Without your support, we do not exist and neither does the Weekly that's been the voice of the community since 1976.