Jana Stoner leads women-owned publishing company

Teri Saylor

Special to Publishers' Auxiliary

May 2, 2022

Jana Stoner is president of the Northern Kittitas County Tribune of Cle Elum, Washington.
Terry Hamberg (left) congratulates Jerri Stoner on receiving the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association s 2016 Dixie Lee Bradley Award at the annual WNPA convention. The Dixie Lee Bradley Award is presented to one newspaper industry employee each year for “consistent, quality work over a considerable time period in any facet of the community newspaper industry.”  Oahe Publishing Corporation is the parent company of the Northern Kittitas County Tribune and owned by Jana Stoner, president, Terry Hamberg, vice president, and Jerri Stoner, secretary/treasurer.

Jana Stoner can’t recall the exact moment she decided to live her life as a newspaper publisher because it has never been “just a job” for her.

“I’ve had so much fun and one-of-a-kind experiences being in this industry,” she said. “Entering into my 45th year on the payroll with our publishing corporation, I still find joy in putting these publication puzzle pieces together on deadline and working on creating the next project to share with our readers and customers.”

Stoner, 56, is president of Oahe Publishing Corporation, which owns the Northern Kittitas County Tribune of Cle Elum, Washington. Launched in 1953, Stoner’s family is only the third family to independently own the newspaper during its 69-year history.

“My family purchased this weekly newspaper in 1999,” Stoner said. “Today, our women-owned business, Oahe Publishing Corporation, is led by Terry Hamberg, vice president, Jerri Stoner, secretary/treasurer, and me.”

Jana credits her mother, Jerri, for being the heart and soul of the newspaper. Over her nearly 60-year career, “she has been behind the scenes, working long hours helping to do whatever it takes to get the next edition out on time, even if that meant driving the page mechanicals 60 miles to the printer in a snowstorm,” Jana said.

In 2016, Jerri received the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s Dixie Lee Bradley Award, presented to one newspaper industry employee each year for “consistent, quality work over a considerable time period in any facet of the community newspaper industry.”

The Northern Kittitas County Tribune comes out on Thursdays with a paid circulation of 2,400.

Subscribers receive their newspapers through the USPS, and single copies are available on local newsstands and via digital downloads.

“We also use a little social media like Facebook to post breaking news, community alerts and advertiser event ads that we partner with,” Stoner said. “We post our weekly edition front page and headlines, as well as our obituaries and classified ads online for free. Our goal is to offer the full edition online soon with extra features through a digital subscription portal.”

Newspaper motto: Northern Kittitas County TRIBUNE, “The Home Team Newspaper”


“Our staff of eight includes a mix of full-time, part-time and weekly content contributors ranging in age from 28-70. We serve nine small communities in a 30-mile radius for distribution, news, advertising and niche publications (events, tourism and construction services). We strive to bring our readers a variety of original content each week along with community contributions, a few edited state/national press releases, local event photo coverage and special section tabs for annual events and holidays. I’m really proud of what we are able to produce with such a small, dedicated staff who we consider to be part of our owner/operator family. We always enjoy our collective brainstorming sessions together — so many great ideas come out of those.

“As our area grows in population, we hope to recruit several ‘under age 30’ writers and media sales staff to expand our community outreach and carry on the community newspapers long into the future. Our dream is to pass this publishing business on to another family to own when Terry and I are ready to retire. We think that keeping it independently owned into the future with someone active in the community will best serve our Tribune readers.”


“As technology goes," Jana said, “we will certainly be adapting to new platforms for producing and distributing our publications. I imagine in the next 10 years our subscribers might prefer to read our publications on mobile devices more so than the print edition. At some point, even the smallest of newspapers will probably be featuring video interviews and advertising on their websites. I’m amazed at all the possibilities of what we could create with our newspapers in this digital era — audio, video, livestream events and sports. We’re excited for the opportunity next school year to work with one of our small schools on a page design and advertising program with some of the students who will be working on their yearbook and other projects.”


“I’m a second-generation publisher having worked in the family business, learning so much from my dad,” Jana said. “My parents, Jack and Jerri — who were born and raised in Kansas — purchased their first weekly newspaper in Twisp, Washington, in 1972. My brother Jeff and I learned many skills working in the letterpress environment with our folks. From there, we ended up in South Dakota and owned/operated three weekly newspapers in three counties across 100 miles. Our readership focused on agriculture farming/ranching lifestyle and Indian reservation culture.

“I caught the bug for newspaper photography awards when my high school journalism teacher sent me to photography camp one summer, where I won my first trophies. From there, with my Minolta SLR camera around my neck almost 24/7, I took that passion and headed off to a visual arts school in Minneapolis after graduating high school. I returned home after graduation to open a small photography studio in the back of the newspaper office as a side business.

“After 20 years on the central plains, my folks sold the newspapers, and we took some time off. I traveled a bit and was lured back into the weekly news biz when my parents purchased their ‘retirement’ newspaper in 1999. I planned to be here a short time to help them convert from hard copy paste–up to digital production, but here we are 22 years later, still publishing in Cle Elum. I’m fortunate to have a fantastic co-publisher — Terry Hamberg — to help manage the workload.

“One thing in common at all the newspapers we have owned is that we provide additional services to our community with custom printing and a small office supply retail store. In the past few years, we have created a ‘book nook’ for local authors to sell titles in our store, and that has been a big hit with our customers.”


“We are planning to better market our publications to lure in more advertisers and show them we are still great at engaging customers to shop, eat and support local events,” Jana said. “I would like to add two to three new staff members to expand our news and advertising coverage and lighten my load on the production side with processing legal notices and page design.

“We like to add at least one new promotion a year to engage our readers to participate and get out to explore our community for a chance to win a great prize.”


“I enjoy engaging with other newspaper publishers and sharing ideas,” Jana said. “In 2012, I was president-elect of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. It was a fantastic experience to be the fifth woman to hold that office in the association’s 125-year history. Prior to that, I spent many years on different WNPA committees before joining the board of directors. I recommend anyone wanting to learn more about the newspaper industry to get involved with a newspaper association, attend conferences and webinars. You will network with some great people and glean some great ideas to enhance your community publications. The NNA certainly offers great one-hour webinars; check them out!”


“I’m a music, movie and renaissance festival geek,” Jana said. “Sci-Fi is probably my favorite genre of movies, so much so I braved the crowded halls of the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. I’m a big fan of live music and enjoy concerts. My most favorite down–time activity is relaxing at home with Terry and our two rescue calico cat sisters, Lily and River.”


Jana Stoner
PO Box 308, Cle Elum, WA 98922-0308

Teri Saylor is a business writer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Contact her at terisaylor@hotmail.com.