Volume 9, Number 7 - May 5, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Examiner now publishing Tuesdays
It all began with a newborn calf and its mamma. Eight years and one month ago, that’s what the first-ever issue of the Sublette Examiner published as its front-page photo on Thursday, April 5, 2001.
Today marks a different milestone for the Examiner as the 8-year-young newspaper publishes its first-ever issue on Tuesday – moving from the previous Thursday publication date.
“It’s something our readers have wanted, and it just makes sense from a business standpoint,” Sublette Examiner Publisher Jeff Robertson said of the publication date change. “We believe this is just a natural progression in the maturity of the paper.”
But this change would’ve never been possible if the Examiner hadn’t been made a reality back in 2001 when four ladies who jokingly referred to themselves as “Four Broads Publishing” decided it was time for a new paper in town.
Sheri Nolan, Deanne Swain, Rhonda Swain and Cat Urbigkit had all worked together for the Pinedale Roundup (the other newspaper in Sublette County) for a number of years when one day, news broke that the Roundup would be sold.
“After the Roundup had sold and most of the staff was laid off we received a lot of comments like ‘you girls should really start your own paper,’” Deanne Swain said.
So with “a lot of blood, sweat and tears” the four ladies prepared to put their hearts and souls into a product that would have a community-minded focus.
“We had a lot of local volunteer funds and support for the start of a truly community-based newspaper,” Deanne said. “We agreed to meet with our spouses and significant others. The meeting never involved ‘should we start a paper?’ but rather ‘so what do we need to get done to get the paper off the ground?’”
With that kind of attitude there was no doubt a paper was on its way out of the door, but did the four ladies realize the amount of work that would be involved?
“After we decided to go for it, we went to Rock Springs National Bank and walked out with enough money procured on our personal signatures to buy equipment to begin,” Rhonda Swain said. “We rented space from where Express Auto Care is now and Sheri and I went to work on getting advertisers and subscriptions.”
Rhonda admits that the whole thing would have never happened without the efforts of all four ladies.
“The only way we could have made a success of the Examiner was with the four of us,” she said. “We each had our own area of expertise that enabled us to do what we did.”
All businesses have their ups and downs and the Sublette Examiner was no different as the newspaper experienced both highs and lows right out of the gate.
“Watching the first issue come off the presses was an exhilarating experience to say the least,” Rhonda said. “Not so exhilarating was a couple weeks later when our files were bad and I had to run to Jackson with the computer hard drive so they could print us. Bad…bad…bad.”
The ups and downs would continue throughout the duration of the four ladies’ tenure at the Examiner. Rhonda and Deanne both highlighted some of their favorite parts of the newspaper business as well as their least favorite moments.
Deanne said her favorite part was “seeing our best work and the amazing work of our staff members (as we grew) on the pages each week” while Rhonda insisted her favorite part was “contributing to the community.”
“Not just with news and advertising, but donations as well,” Rhonda said. “Knowing that what we were doing, especially in Big Piney/Marbleton (which needed coverage), gave people insight into many newsworthy items was a great feeling. Having the respect of community members for doing what we did, both in starting the Examiner and in that people appreciated what we put in the paper.”
The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law combo admitted that long hours and deadlines were at the top of the list of least favorite things about the newspaper.
“The endless deadlines,” Rhonda said in response to being asked her least favorite part of the newspaper business.
For Deanne, “long hours taking time away from family” was a difficult compromise for her.
Despite long hours and deadlines the four ladies starting up and running the Sublette Examiner was not only a daily routine and big part of their life, but also a part of their life they truly came to enjoy.
“The Examiner was our pride and joy,” Deanne said. “It was our baby and we made it the paper we wanted it to be.”
Good friendships, work ethic and similar visions help a business thrive and that’s what Urbigkit, Nolan, Rhonda and Deanne had in common.
“We got along well, even with the stress of putting out a small weekly newspaper,” Rhonda said. “Tuesday nights were always fun … long, especially in the beginning, but fun. We laughed a lot and sometimes did silly things. The memories of that time are great.”
“You know, for six years we had very few disagreements, which is amazing for four very strong-willed, opinionated women,” she said. “We had such a high degree of respect for each other it made it easier to work with each other.”
When the day came to finally step away (Rhonda in November 2006 and Deanne in May 2007) it wasn’t easy. Today there are still things each of the ladies misses about their “baby.”
“I miss working with the entire staff, but especially Cat, Deanne and Sheri,” Rhonda said. “We worked hard but had a lot of fun as well.”
“In trying to be fair but honest in our coverage, we received compliments regarding the way we covered those ‘controversial issues,” she added. “I miss writing, even if it was covering a town council meeting. … I did enjoy writing. I never thought much about it when I left the Examiner, but it turned out that I do miss it.”
As for Deanne, she misses being able to use her creativity.
“I miss the design work,” she said, “the creative outlet that designing pages and ads gave me.”
While the Examiner has seen its share of change over the years the newest change (publishing Tuesdays) is something the newspaper and its staff hopes is a positive one for the community.
“It’s a good thing,” Deanne said. “Should be good for the papers in the community.”
While they’ve moved on to other avenues of work, “Four Broads Publishing” will not soon forget the many memories they accumulated over the years and when asked if they’d do the whole thing over again the response wasn’t shocking.
“Yep, I’d do it again,” Deanne said.
“Yes, I would,” Rhonda replied. “Because it was a good thing for the community and the four of us.”
There’s no doubt Rhonda feels it was all worthwhile.
“I’m very proud of the fact that four women started a newspaper from scratch and turned it into a success story,” she said. “I’m also proud that we provided excellent coverage for Sublette County in many areas and were able to contribute to worthy causes.”
So a new chapter for the Sublette Examiner begins today with the first Examiner to ever publish on a Tuesday. The hope is that the change is a positive one for the community and Examiner readers, but it’s important to remember that if not for those “four broads” this change would’ve never been possible.
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