Opinion

To be a reflection of the communities we serve | Editor's Notebook

Richard Walker - Herald file photo
Richard Walker
— image credit: Herald file photo

This is an invitation to apply for the North Kitsap Herald’s Community Advisory Board. But first, I’d like you to know how I feel about newspapers.

We are blessed to live in this time. Our ability to communicate, to connect, to engage and to influence continues to broaden.

I was born in 1962 and grew up with the daily newspaper, TV and radio. We got the AM paper delivered to our home, and would sometimes pick up later editions reporting the latest sports scores and stock market news. Copies of Sunset magazine and Better Homes & Gardens rested on the coffee table for features of suburban household interest.

Then, in the 1970s, cable TV was born. In 1980, CNN brought news into our homes round-the-clock. In the 1990s, the World Wide Web was born. Facebook was launched in 2004. Twitter was launched in 2006.

Technology enables observers to report events of local and global importance. A blog post or Tweet can immediately reach a vast audience. A photo snapped on a cell phone can go viral in minutes.

Today, newspaper offices are multimedia operations. The Herald, for example, publishes a Friday newspaper, online news sites for North Kitsap and King-ston, an annual almanac, and special sections on topics of seasonal interest. Staff members blog and post stories.

And yet, at the core of this swirl of activity is the printed edition. The blog posts, the Tweets, the online stories let you know what’s going on at that moment. But the Friday newspaper is the printed record of what’s happened, or is going to happen, in our community that week.

All forms of communication are important, and we need to defend them to the death. But as history has shown, in an increasingly electronic world, the printed record is vitally important. A natural event may affect our ability to communicate over the Internet. We may not be able to blog or Tweet. But the newspaper will still be printed. If needed, an “Extra” will be published and gotten into the public’s hands.

Despite all of the technological changes of the last century, the mission of the newspaper remains the same. “What’s a newspaper if it is not a mirror of the community it serves?,” wrote Curtis H. Clay, managing editor of the Daily Post Tribune of La Salle, Ill., in February 1937. “Its columns tell what people are doing and reveal how they are living. It is, in brief, a day-by-day advertisement of whether the community is ‘a good place to live.’ ”

I believe newspapers will remain vital in the future.

"Indeed, the more that life becomes globalised, digital and virtual, the more, I would argue, people will seek out products like newspapers that slow things down a little and tell us what’s important and what’s not, especially at a local level,” Richard Watson of the Future Exploration Network in Australia told the World Association of Newspapers conference in Amsterdam in October 2007.

In short, we need the Internet. We need blogs and Tweets. We need radio and TV. And we need newspapers.

Now, back to the subject of the Community Advisory Board. I envision the board as a group of residents from each geographical area of North Kitsap, meeting periodically with me and the publisher to ensure the Herald — and its online and special section coverage — indeed reflects the communities it serves. Members will provide input on the Herald’s coverage and will let us know what’s going on in their neighborhoods. I’d like a member from Bangor, Hansville, Indianola, Keyport, Kingston, Little Boston, Port Gamble, Poulsbo, Suquamish. But if you’re from Breidablik, Eglon, Lofall or another community that’s off the main drag, I’d like to hear from you too.

If you are interested in serving, send me a cover letter and a resume: Editor, The Herald, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Or email me at rwalker@northkitsapherald.com.

I look forward to working with you.

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