James Best bought The Herald, which had a circulation of 4,250, from Perkins in 1905. At the time, there were numerous small, often short-lived, newspapers in Snohomish County. Best is credited with having the greatest influence in journalism during that time, giving the county a reliable source for news.
Best's wife, Gertrude, reluctantly took over operation of The Herald in 1922 when James died at the age of 58. By 1926, the newspaper's circulation topped 15,000. Gertrude oversaw The Herald for the next 17 years, establishing the paper's photo department and publishing The Herald's first Sunday edition. The Sunday paper would be scrapped in 1932 as the paper and region struggled through the Great Depression. The Herald was the only daily newspaper to survive.
The Bests' son, Robert, assumed the role of publisher when Gertrude suffered a stroke in 1939. She died in 1947.
At the age of 29, Robert D. Best Sr. was a graduate of the University of Washington when he took over as publisher. Despite his young age, Robert Best already was known for his sense of business management and interest in new technology. The Herald flourished during his 37-year tenure. He led the newspaper into the modern era of computerized, photographic typesetting, color printing and community journalism. Robert Best moved The Herald to its current location after a 1956 fire burned the press and composing room.
Robert Best Sr. died of a stroke in 1976.
His son, Robert Best Jr., took over the paper but the family decided in 1978 to sell the publication to The Washington Post Co., which committed to maintain the autonomy of The Herald, the quality of news coverage and its role in the community.
Best stayed on until 1979 to complete the transition. Christopher M. Little, who had been The Washington Post newspaper's legal counsel and director of personnel, took over as publisher for the next four years. Little re-established the Sunday edition.
Larry Hanson took over as publisher in 1984. He oversaw the paper's switch from afternoon to morning publication in 1991. The paper also began using computers for design and layout and digital cameras for photography. The newspaper's website also was established under Hanson's tenure.
From 2001 to 2011, Allen Funk presided over the newspaper, emphasizing HeraldNet.com. Like many newspapers, though, The Herald has struggled with a business model for both print and electronic products. The newspaper shrunk in size, as did the staff. The Herald also agreed to outsource delivery of the print edition to The Seattle Times.
Over the past two years, The Herald has seen additional staff reductions and ceased printing The Weekly Herald, which known formerly as The Enterprise, which served southwest Snohomish County.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post Co. announced plans to sell The Herald to Sound Publishing. The Herald's current publisher, David Dadisman, will remain at the publication during the transition.
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