An Eastern Washington journalist with ties to the area has entered into an agreement to acquire Free Press Publishing.
Roger Harnack, currently of Sunnyside, is acquiring the media company from longtime owner Bill Ifft of Medical Lake.
“I'm looking forward to continuing the independent news traditions instituted by Bill,” Harnack said in a Sept. 23 news release. “He's built a solid media company, while retaining the independence Eastern Washington communities need and deserve.”
“With Roger's newspaper background and Eastern Washington roots, he's a good fit for our publications and communities,” Ifft said.
Free Press Publishing includes the Cheney Free Press, Davenport Times, Fairchild Extra, Ritzville-Adams County Journal, Spokane Valley Times Herald and West Plains Extra.
Harnack and Ifft have been working on the agreement for approximately two years, developing a business plan that preserves local ownership and content.
“In the past several years, Eastern Washington's newspapers have been systematically sold to out-of-state corporations,” Harnack said. “If our communities are to continue to have a voice in this era of globalization, keeping media locally owned is essential.”
Local ownership also provides for accuracy and accountability, Ifft added.
With 12 years publisher experience and nearly 30 years as a journalist, Harnack has won numerous awards, including the international Golden Quill for commentary writing.
Harnack's career includes stints as publisher for newspapers in Colville, Deer Park, Sunnyside and Omak. He is the founding editor of Sequim This Week and a former Pacific bureau chief for Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper serving America's military forces oversees. Earlier in his career, he was the managing editor of the Daily Record in Ellensburg and the Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles.
Outside of work, Harnack races jet skis and is the promoter for Pacific Northwest watercross racing. A longtime member of search-and-rescue, he enjoys fishing, hiking, shooting and photography.
He also has ties to the Cheney area.
“My sister and her family have ranched and farmed here for decades,” Harnack said. “My nephews both graduated from Liberty in Spangle and live and work in Cheney.”
Harnack is a divorced dad; he has a 17-year-old daughter, Olivia.