Issaquah Press closes; community members feel the loss

Hannah Norton, News Editor

One hundred seventeen years. 6,000 issues. 45,000 readers.
It’s New Year’s Day, 1900, and the first issue of the Issaquah Independent has been released. To the editors and staff of this newspaper, simply producing their first issue would’ve been incredible. However, little did they know that for over 100 years, their legacy would live on in the thousands of issues of the growing publication.
Flash-forward to January 19, 2017. On this date, the Issaquah Press announced that its final edition would be distributed on February 23, signaling the close of the newspaper.
The entire Issaquah Press Group, which also published the Sammamish Review, the SnoValley Star, and the Newcastle News, shut down that week.
Since October, the Issaquah Press had been experiencing a record amount of subscribers and website traffic, and had recently acquired 18 awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. Yet, despite extensive plans, the company was unable to offset the losses that had begun six years prior.
“Issaquah has a diverse population with many viewpoints,” Issaquah mayor Fred Butler said. “Now, more than ever before, it is important to ensure that citizens remain informed about decisions.”
Since 2012, Christina Corrales-Toy had covered Liberty High School sports. Previously, it had been covered by the late Bob Taylor, alongside former staff photographer Greg Farrar.
“The highlight of this profession was getting to interact with Liberty High School,” Corrales-Toy said. “I got to know people like Steve Valach and Michelle Munson, and the Liberty community made a Patriot fan out of me.”
For Liberty High School, the Issaquah Press had become a source of pride.
“I think the closure of the Issaquah Press is going to be hard on everyone, because it’s such a big part of how we celebrate achievements,” principal Sean Martin said. “The Issaquah Press reporters themselves often became part of that community.”
Since 1900, the Issaquah Press had allowed people to read stories about local people, places, and events.
“The Issaquah Press always had a hometown feel to it, and I felt more of a personal connection to it,” Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Kelly Brunell said. “I was always thrilled to see my former students showcased.”
In previous years, Liberty’s football team was not as successful as it is today. Yet, no matter the circumstances, the Issaquah Press sent a reporter for every single game.
“In my 18 years here, the Press has always been a consistent and supportive presence in our community,” football coach Steve Valach said. “These people aren’t doing this for a living; they approach their jobs with a passion.”
Some community members have found that for them, the Issaquah Press has been able to create change in a way that one voice could not.
“After months of speaking with the postmaster about the out-of-control blackberry bushes, potholes, and weeds at the Gilman Boulevard Post Office, nothing improved,” Issaquah parent Lily Skelton said. “I wrote a request for improvement in the Issaquah Press, and by the next week, it was taken care of.”
“It’s important to have strong local news coverage to hear what people are doing and thinking, because views in other parts of the state do not always line up ours,” Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Susan Cherry said.