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WNPA History

The Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA) is the successor to the Washington Press Association, founded in 1887 by newspapers in Dayton, Ellensburg, Seattle, Tacoma, Yakima and Walla Walla.

Organized in 1887 as the Washington State Press Association with a state-wide membership consisting of both daily and weekly newspapers, the work-load of operating this fledgling association was distributed amongst the newspaper publishers.


In 1914 Fred W. Kennedy assumed the duties of Association manager on a part-time basis which eventually developed into a full-time position.  The Association office was located on the University of Washington campus and Mr. Kennedy was a member of the journalism school faculty.


In December of 1952 Clarence B. (Clancy) Lafromboise was named full-time executive director with the death of Mr. Kennedy.  His assistant, Robert M. Shaw, succeeded Mr. Lafromboise in 1961 when he resigned to return to active publishing.  After three years, Mr. Shaw resigned in 1964 to accept a similar position with the Minnesota Newspaper Association.  Named to succeed Mr. Shaw was Jerry Zubrod.  Mr. Zubrod stayed on as executive director until his retirement in 1987.  Miles Turnbull, former publisher of the Leavenworth Echo, succeeded Mr. Zubrod as executive director from 1988 until his retirement in February, 1992.  Named to succeed Mr. Turnbull was Diana Kramer, a long-time publisher from Arizona. Diana served as executive director from 1992 to 2004, when she returned to active publishing. Named to succeed Ms. Kramer, Mr. George S. Smith of Arkansas took the helm of WNPA on Jan. 1, 2005. When Mr. Smith’s contract expired in September 2005, Bill Will was named general manager. In August 2014, former publisher of the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record, Marcia Van Dyke became executive director. Fred Obee, formerly with the Port Townsend Leader and the Whidbey News-Times, succeeded Van Dyke in May 2016.


Early in 1964, the office of the Association was moved from the University of Washington campus to a small office in the University District.  This was a voluntary move, but one that was encouraged by university officials and some publishers.  In 1969, the Association's office was moved to 3838 Stone Way North, Seattle. In July 2004, the office moved for the first time in more than 30 years to a larger and more modern space at 1434 Elliott Avenue West, Seattle.

With staff reductions in 2004-2005, the larger space was no longer appropriate and in July 2006 the office moved to a smaller location at 12354 30th Ave NE, in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood. In March 2012, WNPA closed its office and staff began working in home offices.

In December of 2014, WNPA reopened offices at 1204 4th Ave E. Suite 4, Olympia WA. That office was closed at the end of October 2016, and a new office reopened in at 210 Polk Street, Port Townsend, WA in December 2016.

Membership in the Association is voluntary with the newspaper being the member regardless of who the publisher is.  A newspaper must be published at least twice monthly to qualify for regular membership. Other membership opportunities are associate membership (for those with a less frequent publication cycle), affiliate (non-publishing organizations, including educational institutions), and honorary life membership (awarded by the Board of Trustees).


The WNPA Foundation was established in 1986 by publishers active in Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. A separate organization from WNPA, it is nonprofit 501(c)(3) and builds its scholarship base through an auction held during the annual convention of Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

The Bruce and Betty Helberg Internship Scholarship was established in 1988. The Helbergs met when Betty was taking a journalism class at Mount Vernon High School and Bruce was night editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a journalism professor at the University of Washington. When World War II broke out, the couple was married with two children. Bruce continued to work at the P-I until 1947, when the couple went into partnership in the Kent News Journal and the Renton Chronicle. Bruce served as editor in Renton until 1954, and then went into partnership with Clarence Lafromboise on the Bellevue American, then a weekly. The American was publishing five days a week when the partners sold it in 1982. Betty created the scholarship in memory of her late husband to help journalism students.

In 1989, when the Foundation directors first created internship scholarships in the organization’s name, Jay Becker of the Vashon Beachcomber was president. John Flaherty of the South District Journal and Beacon Hill News, Seattle, was vice president. Miles Turnbull, then WNPA’s Executive Director and a former publisher of the Leavenworth Echo, was secretary-treasurer.  

The Verizon Internship Scholarship was created in 1990, when Howard Voland was Foundation president. Publisher of the Monroe Monitor, Volland served as Foundation president from 1989 through 1999.

The Jim and Kay Flaherty Internship Scholarship was established in 1993. Jim’s mother, Rhoda Flaherty, founded the Beacon Hill News in 1924. Jim graduated from the UW journalism school in the early 1930s, and he and Kay published the Beacon Hill News and South District Journal in Seattle. 

Prior to creating this Foundation scholarship, for many years they had offered journalism scholarships to students at Franklin, Cleveland and Garfield high schools, also in Seattle. Jim Flaherty died in 1981 and Kay in 1997. 

Their son, John, was active in the newspapers from 1963 until 1990 and served in an emeritus role on the Foundation board for many years. He and his business partner, Denis Law, published several weekly and monthly newspapers in the Seattle area. In 1990 they sold them to Pacific Media Company.

In 2016, The Foundation named two of its Olympia News Bureau internships for two former publishers, Kris Passey, former owner of the Marysville Globe and Arlington Times, and Wallie Funk, former owner of the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record.