By: Nu Yang
New owners give new life to weekly Washington newspaper
When The Review-Independent closed its doors at the end of last August, the 109-year-old newspaper in Toppenish, Wash., could have easily been just another statistic on a long list of shuttered publications. Instead, the paper was purchased by Yakima Valley Publishing, Inc., locally owned by Bruce and Ginger Smith.
The Review-Independent is published every Thursday with a 2,000 circulation. The staff includes editor Jack Smith (no relation to the new owners), an account executive, and an office manager, all of whom were rehired in their former positions. Bruce Smith took on publisher duties.
Bruce said the paper was run by two generations of the same family for almost 50 years before the paper was sold about eight years ago. He said the most recent owner expanded and opened other publications, but due to financial reasons, all the publications ceased operations. Bruce and his wife have owned Yakima Valley Publishing, Inc. for nearly 30 years. Before the acquisition, they published the Yakima Valley Business Times and Central Washington Senior Times.
“It was a good opportunity for us,” Bruce said. “It made sense because we were already in the market, and we had good rapport with advertisers.”
The first issue under the new ownership debuted Nov. 15 last year. “The response has been supportive,” Bruce said. “But we have to earn back the trust from readers.”
In addition to the Review-Independent, the Smiths purchased the Spanish-language weekly newspaper Viva, the weekly Central Valley Shopper direct mailer, the monthly Yakima Valley Business Journal, and the annual Yakima Valley Visitor’s Guide.
“We’re improving the content, printing on better paper, improving the look, and we’ll gradually improve the editorial side with more articles, lots of photos, and more pages,” Bruce said, adding that all of this will lead to greater revenue.
By returning the Review-Independent to its community, Bruce said it sends a good message, not only to a struggling industry, but also to a nation that has been hit with job loss. “We’re glad to step in and keep it going,” he said. “It will be successful, or we wouldn’t have done it.”