Darrington paper to cease publication in March

Joe Day is publishing his last newspaper.

For two years, he’s worked long days and longer nights gathering news to fill the Whitehorse Community News, a monthly newspaper with a small circulation base of about 2,000 readers in north Snohomish County.

The paper paid for itself with revenue from advertisements and a small number of out-of-area subscribers, but it didn’t pay for Day. After logging thousands of unpaid hours, the former electrician is screwing the cap back on his editor pen.

His doctor says it’s time to walk away from the stress. And Day — worn down from years of proofreading and layout deadlines — finally agrees.

“Despite the growing public interest, our economy has dictated that the paper cannot stand on its own,” Day wrote in a letter to subscribers this month.

He broke tough news in the letter: “I don’t have any money to pay back the unused portion of your subscription.”

So just like a growing number of larger newspapers across the country, Day’s tiny labor of love ends with a sad finale: the farewell issue.

The Whitehorse Community news will print for the last time in early March.

“It’ll be all right,” said Day, talking Tuesday afternoon from his home in Darrington. “I’m sad to see it go — and I’m really glad it’s going. It’s an incredible amount of work. It’s really draining.”

In his February issue, Day solicited other community members to step up and take over the paper’s publication. But so far, no one else seems to want to work for free, he said.

The paper’s mission statement is printed on the second page of its February issue, featuring a conspicuous use of the past-tense.

“The purpose of this newspaper was to provide a forum for discussion, a platform for inexpensive business advertising, a source for local information and a place for aspiring writers to be published.”

Day said the paper served a more personal purpose, too. A former union electrician, he studied graphic design at Everett Community College after an injury left him unable to work.

“But nobody wanted to hire a 53-year-old graphic designer who had no practical experience,” Day said. “That was quite a blow for me. I had to do something with my time.”

He started publishing after a friend suggested he put his graphic design experience to work.

The paper never had a Web site, and little trace of its reporting shows up in online searches.

“(The Web site) never materialized, and I didn’t see any reason for it anyway,” Day said. “It’s just for Darrington, a way to give folks around here a voice.”

Know a small business you think we should write about? Contact Herald writer Amy Rolph at arolph@heraldnet.com.

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