JOHN BREWER, WHO guides the Peninsula Daily News as its publisher and editor, will retire in early October, closing out almost 18 years at the PDN and five decades in journalism.
Brewer has overseen the newspaper’s transition from a print-centered operation to one that also delivers content through the Web, social media sites including Facebook and the PDN’s eEdition, an electronic page-by-page replica of the newspaper’s daily editions tailored for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
“It’s been a joyful, rewarding, challenging, fascinating and occasionally bumpy ride,” said Brewer, who will turn 68 in October.
“There’s never been a day when I didn’t want to come to work.
“And there’s certainly never been a dull moment news-wise, especially when your circulation area is two counties and 158 miles long, from the Hood Canal to Neah Bay and LaPush.”
The PDN’s website, www.peninsuladailynews.com, is far and away the dominant news and information website for the North Olympic Peninsula, according to statistics from Omniture, Quantcast and Google Analytics, which measure Web traffic.
The website had more than 1.4 million page views in July.
The newspaper, meanwhile, will enter its 100th year of continuous print publication next year, having been founded in April 1916 as the Port Angeles Evening News and publishing in the 1970s as The Daily News before becoming the Peninsula Daily News in 1987.
Since 2013, Brewer also has been in charge of two weekly newspapers on the North Olympic Peninsula, the Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum; the monthly Olympic Homes-Land real estate magazine; and those publications’ active websites.
The PDN and the two weeklies are owned by Sound Publishing Inc., the largest publisher of community newspapers in the state.
Everett-based Sound Publishing is one of several locally operated divisions of Black Press Group Ltd. of Surrey and Victoria, B.C., which have newspapers and websites in western Canada as well as from Hawaii to Ohio in the U.S.
Brewer will be succeeded as publisher of the three newspapers and magazine by Terry R. Ward, 43, CEO of KPC Media Group Inc. in northeastern Indiana.
Ward will take over Sept. 8 and work with Brewer during the month before his Oct. 9 retirement.
In addition to overseeing KPC’s community newspapers and online publications, Ward launched a digital marketing division that helps small- to medium-sized businesses grow their revenues.
Before joining KPC in 2012, he was director of sales and digital for GateHouse Media’s Community Newspaper Division, working with 142 publications in 11 states.
Ward and his wife, Quinn, have three young children.
Brewer plans to continue living in Port Angeles after he retires, do volunteer work, write, lose some weight and fly-fish for steelhead.
He has been PDN editor and publisher since January 1998, coming from The New York Times.
For 10 years, he was president, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., in charge of The New York News Service, The Times’ features syndicate and New York Times Licensing and Permissions, which handled trademark and merchandise licensing for newspaper.
Before joining The Times, he spent 19 years as a reporter, editor, bureau chief and executive for The Associated Press in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York.
He is the former president of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, Port Angeles Downtown Association and Community Multi-Cultural Alliance.
He is past president of Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington, a statewide press association.
He has been on several community boards and headed a city-community group that tried unsuccessfully to build a convention center in Port Angeles.
Brewer’s first job was with the weekly Upland News in his hometown of Upland, Calif., in 1965.
His career started with manual typewriters and rotary-dial telephones — and is ending with smartphones, Wi-Fi and the replacement of one daily printing deadline with the Internet’s pulsing 24/7 news cycle.
Through it all, Brewer has been a hands-on writer, editor and administrator.
He began “zoning” the PDN in June 1998, creating the two print editions — one with news tailored to Port Townsend/Jefferson County readers, the other with news for Clallam County readers (and major Peninsula-wide news in both) — that continue today.
The PDN’s annual voter guides, the twice-weekly outdoors column, weekly golf column, Sunday “Eye on” columns about what government is doing, the PDN’s weekly Peninsula Spotlight entertainment magazine, the weekly maritime column and several other mainstay features in the newspaper were conceived by Brewer and refined over the years.
Supporting the community
“And we do more than just carry news and advertising,” said Brewer.
“We are a major supporter of the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts and co-founded its annual festival — plus we contribute to more than 25 other nonprofit organizations in both Jefferson and Clallam counties.
“We co-sponsor weekly outdoor concerts for the public every summer, and we conduct annual award programs saluting community heroes in Jefferson and Clallam.
“We set a new record, $271,981, in 2014 for our Peninsula Home Fund, which gives a ‘hand up, not a handout’ to individuals, families, single moms, senior citizens and others from Port Townsend to Forks, and everywhere in between, who suddenly face an emergency situation and can’t find help elsewhere.”
Brewer is passionate about the Home Fund, which is managed for the PDN by Olympic Community Action Programs, the Peninsula’s No. 1 emergency-care organization.
He oversees its operations personally — the PDN does not deduct one penny for administration or overhead — and writes many of the stories about it during the Home Fund’s annual community fundraising campaign from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve.
“This is the 27th year for the fund — and I have no doubt my successor will care about it as much as I have,” Brewer said.
Rex Wilson retired Aug. 1 after almost 17 years as the PDN’s executive editor. He now lives in Mexico.