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Happy belated birthday Woodinville Weekly

In case you didn't notice, The Woodinville Weekly turned 44 years old and rather than throw a huge party, we quietly celebrated by dusting off some graphic design and AP principals and gave the paper a much-needed makeover.

We changed the flag (logo), added section headers to most pages and created a better flow of news from the front to the back.

The front page must invite the reader in and give them a sense of community through the use of headlines, content, and images. The flow from the front to the back must be inciteful, easy to follow, provide valuable information and give the reader a sense of belonging.

As we continue to strive for perfection each and every week, we'll need your feedback and support as we trudge up the mountain towards achieving our periodical mailing permit.

The traditional media model has us, as the newspaper of record, covering events and producing news that we feel is important, without ever asking our readers what they find important.

We then mail the newspaper to every home in Woodinville, knowing full well that only 40 to 60 percent of households actually read the paper. Assuming these estimates are close, we spend more than $120,000 a year on a product that goes straight to the trash, lines a birdcage, keeps kitchen wear safe during a move or helps produce award-winning piñatas.

This money alone would hire two full-time journalists. Here's how we'll do it.

Step one; put our readers first, hire exceptional journalists and produce local news that’s both engaging and relevant to Woodinville readers. Check.

Step two; create a better news experience that invites the reader in, captures their attention across 12 pages and then leaves them with a sense of value and purpose.

Step three; stop forcing want we feel is important to our readers and seek better connections with the community to gain feedback on publishing a better newspaper.

If last week's sudden change was a little extreme, no worries. We will be publishing a few variations of the front page, including the flag, over the next few weeks.

After readers have seen several variations in print, we're throwing a local belated birthday party on Nov. 14 at Chateau Lil and inviting you to join us for an evening of fun and focus groups.

Step four; discontinue mailing a newspaper to every household in Woodinville, convert at least 50 percent to paid circulation and begin mailing through a periodical mailing permit.

Effective Dec.1, 2019, The Woodinville Weekly will move to a membership model. In simplistic terms, this means that the 40 to 60 percent of readers who take their paper from the mailbox straight to the trash will no longer receive the paper.

For those remaining households, all we ask is $29.99 for an annual membership that includes 52 issues of your community newspaper delivered to your home, unlimited digital access and a weekly email newsletter. All this for just $2.50 a month. It's literally the best deal in town.

We recognize that asking readers to pay for something they have received for free for 44 years is a swing for the fences. So let me be clear; if we don’t swing for the fences, the paper will not be able to withstand another 44 years.

This is our collective opportunity to make history and show the region there's a better model of journalism that brings jobs back to the community by focusing on three things; transparency, trust, and news. For $29.99 a year, you have our commitment to these three core values.

If you'd like to show your immediate support, you'll find a membership form on the bottom of page 4 with basic instructions on becoming a foundational member of the Woodinville Weekly Club. Since we still have six weeks remaining, we'll provide plenty of opportunities to become a member before Dec. 1.

 

Eric LaFontaine

Publisher

 

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Tagged under: OPED Opinion