I saw red reading Woodinville City Councilmember Elaine Cook’s husband, Andrew Cook’s letter to the editor October 17 edition. He blatantly misconstrued the facts to attack City Councilmembers Susan Boundy-Sanders and Paula Waters.
Cook cloaked this self-serving letter by presuming to determine, as his letter is titled, “WHAT SUSAN BOUNDY-SANDERS REALLY MEANT.”
His attempt to discredit Boundy-Sanders and Waters for advocating for due process by the City Council was obviously written to ingratiate his own political agenda.
In Boundy-Sander’s letter to the editor October 10 edition she stated, “The Woodinville Municipal Code-Woodinville’s law-lays out clear expectations for attendance” (for the seven unpaid volunteer city commissioners). …“Commissioners may be removed ‘for UNEXCUSED absence for more than three consecutive regular meetings’... At the September 17 City Council’s meeting voted to remove one of our city commissioners over attendance concern. …
The information provided to the City Council before this vote did not indicate whether absences were excused or not (in fact, all absences by the current commissioners were EXCUSED). It reported only absolute attendance numbers, only for the previous nine months, and contained other shortcomings and errors,” Boundy-Sanders reports.
Cook’s attempt to suggest that Boundy-Sanders’ reason why she objects to the “latest in a series of hasty, haphazard actions by the current City Council majority that destabilize our staff, our budgets, our capital priorities and now our volunteers,” as Boundy-Sanders wrote in her letter to the editor, was done (according to Cook), “to further their own (Boundy-Saunders, Waters and City Commissioner Paul Hagen’s) political ambitions.”
This is denigrating and insulting. The only "false narrative", as you put it, seems to be your slant on Boundy-Sanders intentions.
I applaud Boundy-Sanders efforts to uphold Woodinville’s Municipal Code by the City Council in a consistent, fair and equitable manner.
The only “political ambitions” that I can determine from Cook’s letter to the editor in which he is misrepresenting the facts and Boundy-Sanders’ and Waters’ actions is Andrew Cook’s attempt to promote his and his wife’s, City Councilmember Elaine Cook, political agenda.
More than a quarter-century has passed since the city of Woodinville was incorporated.
Before that, it was the community of Woodinville, town boundaries defined as much by post office addresses as anything.
The decisions in the early ’90s that kept Hollywood Hill and the northeast-end farmlands out of the nascent city of Woodinville were made before many of us lived here or knew anything about these dynamics. That included me.
We were drawn to live here, and old-timers to stay because we found Woodinville to be a uniquely lovely place to be. But our community’s character did not come to be by accident. Rather, it was due to a community that had been active for decades in steering its destiny.
They witnessed how fast the farms and pastures between Seattle and Everett disappeared along Hwy. 99 in the ’60s and they saw the wave of unplanned urban sprawl headed east—fast.
And they said, “We can do better than that.” And so they did.
To say the last few weeks have been a little off would be an understatement.
We were thrown a curveball at the beginning of October, which thankfully we’ve been able to foul off for the last three weeks. Now we’re sitting on our pitch. And here it comes. If you missed the candiate (sic) forum or WHS Fall Muscial (sic) a few weeks ago, then you missed two really great events, despite our inability to properly spell the words.
The good news is, we’ve recognized the issue and found a solution, which hopefully readers will quickly recognize in this week’s “nearly” error-free paper. And if you’re still looking for the survey on page 12, it’s safe to look again.
Rebuilding the paper, which thankfully didn’t need much reconstruction, has taken a little over 90 days to prove the paper is worth the $2.50 a month we’re asking readers to pay.
It’s just one less sub sandwich, every other month. This puts us right on track to convert the “give it away for free” model to a forward-thinking, reader-supported model.
This small shift to memberships will allow us to hire a new reporter, which will be announced in the next few weeks.
As the memberships continue to roll in—thank you founding members—we’ll continue to publish 12-plus pages of local content while we climb Mt. Periodical Permit.
What is a membership to the Woodinville Weekly? What a great question and I’m glad I asked. Your Woodinville Weekly Membership is more than just a newspaper subscription delivered to your mailbox. It’s a news experience that begins on page one and ends when your community newspaper has brought something of value to your daily life.
Our value proposition isn’t based on us telling you what’s important; it’s built on you, as a reader, and the things that bring value to your life, family, and community. But we need readership data to accomplish this. (See page 12 ... no seriously; it’s ok to look, the survey is there).
A Woodinville Weekly membership is priced at an affordable $29.99 a year. Your membership includes 52 weekly issues of your hometown newspaper full of great content, photos, community stories, events, and even advertisements.
As a member, you’ll also receive the Valley View (as a B section) once a month, which better connects the communities of Duvall and Carnation with the big-city of Woodinville. And vice-versa. Essentially, it’s two newspapers for the price of one. Best deal in town.
More than a quarter-century has passed since the city of Woodinville was incorporated. Before that, it was the community of Woodinville, town boundaries defined as much by post office addresses as anything.
The decisions in the early ’90s that kept Hollywood Hill and the northeast-end farmlands out of the nascent City of Your membership will also include unlimited digital access, a weekly email newsletter, and an e-edition, available days before the print paper hit homes.
Imagine how savvy you’ll appear over the holidays when you’re opening up the dialogue on an issue that hasn’t even hit shelves yet. Position yourself properly and it’ll be evident that you’ve got the cure for FOMO (fear of missing out) once it begins to spread.
As a member, you’ll also have access to local deals and offers that non-members won’t have access to, including member-only events, which we expect to hold several times a year, including our first event next Thursday, Nov. 14 at Chateau Lill.
We will host light finger foods, great conversation and three rounds of reader focus groups. You can find the event details on how to RSVP somewhere in this paper (no way am I making that mistake again). You also don’t have to be a member to attend. If you’re a business, we created a Small Business Membership to meet your needs.
If you currently carry The Weekly (and Valley View) at the newsstand, we have options for you to continue to provide a safe place for your customers to buy your products and services while catching up on their community news. If you already advertise with us, we’ll continue to connect readers with your products and services and grow your brand.
These memberships carry privileges that only local business has access to. If we had the budget, I would cue Telly Savalas or Wesley Snipes to give the pitch.
How many memberships does the paper need to make it? Another great question that I’m glad I asked.
To remain as the city of Woodinville’s legal paper of record, we’ll need roughly 2,000 members. This is based on the largest circulated competitor in the market, which is not locally owned and does not provide any local jobs in Woodinville. This number may also be based on the number of readers specific in the 98072 zip code, so let’s get busy.
With only four issues remaining, including this one, we’re off to a great start with roughly 100 members in just a few days.
Again, all we’re asking is those that support their local newspaper and want to see journalism jobs brought back to Woodinville to join us as foundational members for just $29.99 a year.
It won’t hurt our feelings if you choose to not join, but it will mean all the difference if you do.
Let’s reinvest in journalism together. Right here in Woodinville.
I believe in supporting journalism and local media. One reason why is because I worked on the publishing team of a nonprofit media group based at Stanford University for seven years, with my last role being the publishing and marketing manager⏤I focused most of my time on advertising, events, and circulation (subscriptions).
My overall responsibility was to help the media group sustain itself with enough earned revenue to support its operations because the university provided no financial support. You could say I have more insight into the financial aspects of publishing than the average Woodinville Weekly reader.
I do like some of the changes the new ownership has implemented⏤the standardization of column layouts and the use of section headers, to name a few. Other areas could still be improved, like using a serif font for better readability and reining in the wild kerning found on some pages.
With that backstory in mind, I've read recent weeks of the Opinion and Letters to the Editor sections with great interest.
As we know, the newspaper has been printing for 44 years. It's also widely known that resistance to change is universal, so I was surprised to see that the new Woodinville Weekly Publisher, Eric LaFontaine, has used a fairly aggressive tone and approach in his opinion pieces when discussing changes coming to the newspaper. And I was disappointed to read his latest piece, "Transparency. Trust. News.," in which he calls out "Not Worth the Annual Fee" author Mr. Huddleston by name several times.
Those call-outs were unnecessary and hostile, and I have a feeling they hurt the newspaper's goal of converting subscribers rather than helping it; I was planning to become a charter subscriber but now I'm reconsidering. I recommend the publisher uses a different tone to (re)build trust with the Woodinville Weekly's audience.
Now that we've announced the change in the Weekly's business model, it's apparent (see Letter to the Editor) there's misinformation floating around the community. Since we're in the business of helping define the narrative, let's dive into the economics and see if we can't clear the air.
The Weekly has survived on advertising revenue — and only advertising revenue — over the last 44 years. Between 1976 and 2015, revenue was strong. Staffing levels and pages were adequate. Things were good.
But what happens when revenue begins to decline and large expenses, such as the cost of printing and mailing the paper, begin to rise? Staffing levels are reduced and journalism declines, pages fall and fewer local stories are covered — all leading to the same result, a city without a newspaper.
When a city loses a newspaper, a number of unintended consequences begin to affect the overall health of the community. City governments are able to make decisions without transparency, which may lead to distrust in government and even higher lending rates.
Community events slowly begin to subside as awareness declines, causing the narrative to move online where social media pages drive the conversation through individual posts, comments or shares that all have an inherent bias. There's a reason Google prioritizes the content that's published on newspaper websites. We are trained professionals with a focus on transparency, trust, and news.
Since 2004, over 2,100 newspapers have closed their doors. This has left a huge hole in the transparency of how our communities and cities function and thrive.
Historically, the largest cost for newsrooms is typically staff. In Woodinville, the largest costs are printing and postage, both of which account for over 60 percent of expenses. Factor in staff wages and indirect costs and one can easily see why the Weekly is on life support.
Printing costs have skyrocketed, driven by threats of tariffs. Postage and mailing rates continue to climb with no end in sight. Let's not forget about the 27 percent decline in advertising revenue since 2015. Taken as a whole, you could count the number of months the Weekly has left on one hand. It's that serious.
Did I mention there's a solution?
Our reader-supported model puts the reader first, not the printing press or US Post Office. Our reader-supported model brings jobs back to the community and reinvests in journalism and the future of Woodinville.
As a small, privately-held corporation, our three co-founders all share the belief that we are building a solution for journalism. We are building a model that puts the readers first, rather than profits. It places transparency, trust, and news at the forefront of our path forward.
To counter Mr. Huddleston's misinformed opinion (see Letter to the Editor), our business model will not line the pockets of shareholders. It will line the pockets — all though small pockets — of journalists and reporters who will live, breathe, and buy goods and services, and pay taxes in the city of Woodinville.
Our model will fill the streets of Woodinville and homes with community news and stories that allow the conversation to move forward, not backward. We're not requesting that the USPS grant us reduced and subsidized bulk mailing rates. We're requesting the complete opposite of moving away from bulk mailing rates.
Depending on the business school you attend, business 101 states when you give something away for free, you inherently give it no value. Is there any business in Woodinville that gives its products and services away for free?
Outside of government or nonprofit agencies, the answer is most likely no. It's time we place value in the content we produce and bring jobs back to Woodinville. This is our opportunity to reinvest in journalism.
Unfortunately, I don't remember the dinner train or the 4th of July fireworks at the sod farm, but most of Woodinville may. And why? Because your community newspaper covered it. The Weekly sent staff to take pictures and write stories for decades on these events. These stories would have never been told if Carol Edwards hadn't taken the opportunity to create something special in Woodinville.
It's pretty clear Mr. Huddleston has every intention of making sure the Weekly closes its doors, which I find sad and misinformed. Knowing Mr. Huddleston won't support the community newspaper makes our job a little easier. At least we know where he stands, which is clearly not with us.
Consider this op-ed a formal invitation to Mr. Huddleston to join us on November 14 at Chateau Lil from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for a reader focus group event.
A single voice is seldom heard, but when combined with others, this voice is amplified and able to accomplish the impossible. The industry states that journalism is dying and is impossible to resuscitate. I disagree.
Please join me — and Mr. Huddleston — for an evening of great conversation, catering by Alexa's Cafe, complimentary wine (one glass) and the opportunity to provide the foundation for Woodinville's community newspaper to thrive another 44 years.