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The News Tribune, The Bellingham Herald, The Olympian, and the Tri-City Herald have produced high-quality journalism for decades, serving our communities and sharing local voices. 

We have committed to fair and honest journalism to accurately represent the regions we cover. In an effort to have fair and honest working conditions across the four newsrooms, our four Washington-based McClatchy newsrooms are unionizing.

Our unionizing efforts seek to ensure there is a future for McClatchy’s Washington state newsrooms and the papers’ journalists so they can continue to provide the best coverage possible for our communities. 

Newsrooms in Tacoma, Bellingham, Olympia and the Tri-Cities have worked tirelessly to cover the perpetual breaking news of 2020, providing the crucial news readers depend on.

The News Tribune uncovered hundreds of unused COVID-19 test kits sitting in storage. The Tri-City Herald reported on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on mental health. The Bellingham Herald strong-armed the local health department into releasing critical information on the coronavirus. The Olympian followed an outbreak at the county jail as inmates reported corrections staff hadn’t been taking public health precautions. 

Meanwhile, we’ve continued to produce critical accountability reporting. 

The News Tribune broke the story about Manuel Ellis’ death in police custody being ruled a homicide. The Tri-City Herald has kept the alleged misconduct of the Benton County Sheriff in the spotlight. Olympian reporters were first on the scene to provide local, breaking coverage when the suspect in a fatal shooting of a right-wing supporter in Portland was killed by a U.S. Marshals task force near Lacey. The Bellingham Herald revealed that several local police officers used a man with known severe mental health issues to play a prank on other off-duty officers.  

Yet, staff are barely making enough to live in the counties they cover. Reduced staffing in newsrooms has burdened reporters, visual journalists and digital producers to juggle higher workloads than ever before without adequate newsroom resources and compensation.

As the layoffs, buyouts and unfilled positions continue, it is increasingly difficult to give our communities the news when they need it. The coronavirus pandemic and protests over systemic racism this year have further highlighted the need for investment in local journalism.

When communities lose their newspapers, they are at risk of becoming a “news desert” with no reliable source for local news. In addition to losing the reporting that empowers them to make informed decisions about their lives, the loss of local newspapers leaves communities vulnerable to “casual endemic corruption” when journalists are not there to serve as a watchdog on government.

The journalists at the four McClatchy papers in Washington will not sit by and let that happen; our unionization efforts are driven by the need for journalists to have a seat at the table when it comes to decisions about our workplace. This step is imperative to ensure the highest quality journalism can continue in our communities for decades to come. Our communities rely on us to keep them informed about issues that impact their lives and it is with them in mind that we seek to advocate for workplace security and investments in our four newsrooms. 

As a union, we hope to work with corporate McClatchy to find more equitable, viable solutions for our newsrooms, and for the betterment of community coverage. 

We are The Washington State NewsGuild.