By: E&P Staff
Ryan Blethen — a fifth-generation member of the publishing family who as a columnist has taken positions at odds with the newspaper industry establishment — was named editorial page editor of The Seattle Times Tuesday. He succeeds James Vesely, who recently retired.
Blethen, 36, will continue his role as associate publisher, with responsibility for overseeing the Seattle Times Co.’s Washington Affiliate Newspapers: the Yakima Herald-Republic, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and the Issaquah Press. He will continue to serve on the company’s Strategic Operating Council.
Blethen is the son of Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen. His family has owned a controlling interest in the Seattle Times since 1896.
Both modern-day Blethens have proven contrarians inside the newspaper industry. Frank and Ryan Blethen in opinion pieces have opposed loosening or eliminating the ban on same-market common ownership of a daily newspaper and broadcast stations. Like his father, Ryan Blethen has spoken forcefully for a so-called “diversity” and “localism” in media ownership — and, unlike many of his industry colleagues has been open to federal laws to encourage diverse ownership.
Ryan Blethen will continue his column in the Times.
Frank Blethen said the fifth generation of Blethens “passionately embrace the journalistic and community service mission” of the company.
“We are pleased that Ryan has emerged as a respected journalist with a growing national reputation for his writing and reporting on the critical free press and democracy issues facing our nation,” Frank Blethen said in a statement. “He has a deep understanding for the changes affecting our industry and the need to continue to keep independent journalism and localism as the foundation of our business.”
In addition to his more recent work on the Times as associate editorial page editor and columnist, Ryan Blethen has worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Yakima and Spokane, Washington, and Portland, Maine. He is a member of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and the International Press Institute North American Committee’s board.