Gather Round the Kitchen Table
by Jennifer Karchmer
Jennifer Karchmer is the editor of Whatcom Watch as of Dec. 2010.
“We need genuine, oppositional, independent media,” — Amy Goodman, speaking Nov. 24, 2009 at Western Washington University’s Performing Arts Center.
The Phoenicia Times in upstate NY announced in October that it was ceasing publication after eight years on newsstands (see The New York Times, Oct. 14, 2010, “On the grave of a paper, no dancing,” by Peter Applebome). As a journalist who got her start in upstate New York not far from the Phoenicia Times, I took the news hard. The Ithaca Times, the Blue Stone Press in Highland, NY and the Lake Champlain Weekly in Plattsburgh, NY were some of the publications I contributed to in my early years.
So rather than lament those papers that have gone under, I suggest we celebrate the newspapers (albeit dwindling in numbers) that are waving the freedom of the press banner — Whatcom Watch included.
As you probably know, Whatcom Watch was started in 1992 by three concerned citizens who wanted a printed forum to bring awareness to issues in the county that they believed were not being covered adequately in the local press. Urban development, Lake Whatcom water quality, the Georgia Pacific plant, the airport expansion are all topics Whatcom Watch has covered, and with a staff comprised entirely of volunteers.
As Whatcom Watch approaches its 20th anniversary in May 2012, it is an exciting but challenging time as the grassroots newspaper chugs directly into the headwind of difficult times being experienced by all printed material.
Consider this column an invitation to applaud and support the upcoming milestone by contributing to Whatcom Watch as a volunteer in a fashion you see fit: writing, donating, distributing, advertising, proofreading, copyediting, reporting, investigating, marketing, promoting, fundraising, grant writing, fact-checking, compiling, photographing … you get the point, anything that helps the newspaper reach the landmark.
In her WWU talk, Goodman reminded us of our uniqueness; not every community has an independent news source – one that is “powerful, unusual and critical.” Further, she invoked a metaphor to describe alternative sources of news: “a huge kitchen table where we discuss the issues of the day.”
Come gather at the kitchen table. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and write in the subject line: Kitchen Table. §
Thank You Emily
Whatcom Watch would like to Emily Linroth for her hard work, dedication and innovation over the past several months as she took over the reins of the editor role at Whatcom Watch. In fact, she volunteered her time to editing the newspaper while finishing her bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University. She had previously served as the editor of The Planet, WWU’s environmental journalism publication. Now a college graduate, Emily is pursuing her career as a science journalist in the Pacific Northwest. We thank her and wish her luck.