Bright Light award: Warner & Woods of the Wenatchee World

Interest in better public policy outcomes demands an interest in quality journalism. In a world where people increasingly get their news from ideological silos, community-based news, original reporting, and clutter-clearing commentary are more important than ever.

North Central Washington is fortunate to have the Wenatchee World, which truly is a community asset. Owned and published by the Woods family for over a century, the World connects Wenatchee and its environs in ways other newspapers should seek to emulate. The paper not only keeps its finger on the pulse of the region, it is itself a part of the community’s lifeblood.

Publisher Rufus Woods took over management of the World in 1997, guiding its operations during a time of immense change in the industry and keeping it family-owned. Woods’ own columns (his 97-year-old father Wilfred still writes a column as well) are community-focused, usually highlighting a local effort that needs encouragement, a challenge to be grappled with, or a quiet community leader who deserves recognition.

Tracy Warner, editor of the editorial page, is simply one of the best columnists in the state. He holds Democrats and Republicans alike to account while keeping an eye on the broader trends that others miss. Whether writing on Social Security or the spotted owl, Castro’s Cuba or the local economy, Warner is consistently thoughtful and thought-provoking. His columns are well-written and highly readable.

The imprint of both can be found in the paper’s editorials. For good or ill, in most places the local editorial board’s thoughts are now just one more opinion. In Wenatchee, the paper’s take still seems to carry weight. No doubt that’s partly because Warner and Woods ensure the World’s editorials reflect the practical-but-positive ethos of North Central Washington.

The Wenatchee World retains a bit of the bygone regional boosterism that used to be common among newspapers, and that seems to fit it just fine. Warner and Woods are going to stick up for North Central Washington, its people and its economy, and who better for the task? For being creators and defenders of quality journalism, and defenders of their beautiful area, Tracy Warner and Rufus Woods are Smarter Government Washington Bright Lights.
-Rob McKenna

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.