When I started at The Reflector Alex Rodriguez was still playing baseball, James Comey was still the FBI director, Hockinson hadn’t won a state football championship yet and Barack Obama still ruled the free world.
Things were much different here at The Reflector as well when I joined in 2016. Some of our longest standing employees retired or moved to different jobs during the last three years and our parent company, LaFromboise Communication — which also owns The Chronicle in Centralia, Nisqually Valley News in Yelm and a sign printing shop as well — went through a major change in leadership.
Although each time an employee moves the adjustment can be bumpy, nothing over the last three years compared to the last three months.
It became clear to our corporate leaders that our print division was unsalvageable and the shuttering process began. Along with sweeping layoffs at the print division, jobs were also eliminated across the company for financial reasons and as customer service was consolidated. (Don’t worry, though, our doors are still open for walk-ins).
We’re a small office here in Battle Ground, so this wasn’t like getting an email from your boss at Amazon telling you a bunch of people you’d never met had been laid off.
It hit hard.
Cliché as it might sound, we’re like a family — in fact, some weeks we spend more time with each other at work than with our own family. The layoffs left a cloud over the office for some time and the stress of taking on some new responsibilities was certainly felt.
But although we loved our coworkers and would certainly love to have them back, it’s important to keep things in perspective.
Most notably is the investment in our creative side.
When layoffs hit news outlets of any size or platform, the newsrooms are sometimes stripped to nearly nothing, especially when some hot-shot “sales mind” either buys the company or is hired to come in and save it.
That wasn’t the case here. It’s of utmost importance to me that we maintain a strong news team and we have. With a couple of recent hires this year and the continued dogged reporting of Rick Bannan, we’re stronger than ever.
These changes have also kept us locally owned and operated.
Sadly, ownership structures like ours are becoming rare in today’s world of print media, as newspapers across the country are being bought up by large regional corporations. Management and design often get centralized while a few reporters are planted in coverage areas to wander about.
Jenifer Lafromboise Falcon, our owner, inherited the company from her mother and hopes to pass it along to her own children one day. I’ve had a number of conversations with Mrs. Lafromboise Falcon and I trust that she’s committed to keeping her newspapers locally owned and operated, with a newsroom free of outside interference.
With a strong news team in place, just like we have been for over a century, The Reflector will continue to report with integrity and clarity matters affecting the fine folks of north Clark County.
Jonathan Haukaas is editor in chief of The Reflector. He can be reached at 360-723-5704 or firstname.lastname@example.org