Out of My Mind, April 26, 2012

Canadian ownership not a bad thing

It’s come to our attention recently that a few people saying our parent company being Canadian as a bad thing. Yes, Sound Publishing, headquartered in Washington State, is owned by a Canadian company, Black Press – but that’s actually all right with us.
There are very few locally-owned community newspapers left, in fact there isn’t a locally-owned community newspaper in all of the Okanogan Valley, no matter what some would have you believe. Like our old publishers, NCW Media, both Sound and Black have sterling reputations as being committed to community newspapering and for us at the Gazette-Tribune that’s what really counts.
Sound has offered us top-class support every step of the way, from new equipment and technical know-how, to increasing the number of color photos we can have in each issue and a total paper redesign that makes it more attractive.
Back before NCW Media, we were printed in Penticton, B.C., but when they bought us our papers went to the press they own in Chelan which makes perfect sense. Now we’re with Sound, we are printed in Penticton again – the same plant as in the pre-NCW days. Short of having our own multi-million dollar press, it only makes financial sense to be printed at the closest press, which is in Canada and happens to be owned by Black Press.
Why, because Oroville, for one, thrives on Canadian trade. My first “real job” outside of picking and thinning apples, was boxing groceries at Prince’s. Just count the number of B.C. plates in their parking lot and you’ll see how much we rely on our Canadian neighbors. My next job, after I turned 21, was working for my dad at the Pastime, again, Canadians were just as much a part of our business as was local trade.
Back when we were locally-owned we’d hear the occasional complaint about printing in Canada as if we were disloyal. We’d explain it was just good business practice because Webco was the closest press that could handle the job. But we’d also let those doing the complaining know it was much more likely the money we spent in Penticton would make its way back across the border to our communities than if we printed at one of our other options — Chelan, Wenatchee or Colville. My experience at the grocery store and the tavern proves that. That, and the fact everyone I talked to at Webco in Penticton said they regularly shopped in the “states.”
The G-T isn’t the only local business with a Canadian parent. A couple weeks ago I wrote about B.C.-based Gorman Brothers’ plan to invest another $10 million at their Oroville Reman and Reload facility. Reman and Reload already has more than 60 full-time employees working at an average of $15 an hour with benefits – those kind of good paying jobs are pretty hard to come by unless you work for the government. The planned upgrades are supposed to lead to another 15 full-time employees being hired. That means those employees will be able to shop local and buy groceries, hardware, trucks and cars and homes — all the sorts of things that having a good job brings. And lest we forget, Kinross Gold, which owns the Buckhorn Mountain Gold Mine near Chesaw, is a Canadian company. It too, employs many people in the Oroville, Tonasket and Republic areas. More good paychecks to spend in Okanogan County.
As far as Black Press’ influence over the content of our newspaper, we’ve never been asked to publish anything beyond the announcement of their purchase of the newspaper and the hiring of Sound’s new president. In fact, those articles actually came from Sound Publishing and not Black Press. What being part of a large group of small papers does do, because our other papers are nearly all in Washington state and in B.C., is give us the opportunity to provide better coverage of state-wide issues that concern us locally and, God-forbid, even some B.C. issues if they have something to do with the border or Lake Osoyoos.
I’m not ashamed to be owned by a Canadian company any more so than any of the millions of American people who work for businesses whose parent companies can be traced back to Canada. With Sound Publishing and Black Press’ backing the G-T might just be around for another 107 years.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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