Mercer Island Reporter switches to 'tabloid' format in print May 19

A sampling of Reporter papers from the past.  - Elizabeth Celms/Mercer Island Reporter
A sampling of Reporter papers from the past.
— image credit: Elizabeth Celms/Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island Reporter will sport a new look next week.

Over the last 50 years or so, the Reporter, like the Island people and events described in its pages, has had its share of changes. This time both the look and the feel of the paper will change. On May 19, the Mercer Island Reporter will be printed in a tabloid format instead of as a traditional newspaper broadsheet. The new format with updated design and look will allow more color in each edition and include new design elements.

A newspaper in some form or another has been serving up stories about the Island and its residents since 1911. But the record about who, when and why is rather sketchy. Few old copies exist.

An early precursor of the Reporter was called the Mercer Island News, according to the Mercer Island Historical Society’s book entitled “Mercer Island Heritage” by Judy Gellaty, et al. A copy of the paper was found in the wall of a house being remodelled in the East Seattle neighborhood in the 1970s.

Later, The Livewire News was published briefly by George and Hap Lightfood around 1919. Then, in 1927, the Mercer Island Journal was published, followed by a paper named the Livewire Mercer Island News. The Livewire was dedicated primarily to news of the South end. Then, in 1949, the weekly Mercer Islander ran for four years.

The Mercer Island Reporter adopted its current name in 1954, when a man who did not live here founded the paper. Fred M. Bassetti, a newspaperman from Chicago, “wanted to keep his hand in.”

After a handful of owners throughout the next couple of decades, the Reporter was purchased by the predecessor of the Eastside Journal (which had several names, including The Journal American). The company was purchased in 2006 by Sound Publishing, Inc of Poulsbo.

Over the past four-plus years, Sound has expanded the number of community weeklies in the group to 32. Over time, the company has sought to expand services to readers and advertisers and has adopted the tabloid format as the company standard.

The new format has been well received throughout the company.

The Reporter staff is looking forward to the change and continuing to serve the Island community. Let us know what you think. E-mail the editor at

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