By Brenda Mann Harrison
I remember being taught how to take care of things so they last. My first car was a used blue Ford Fairlane. I needed it to get me down gravel roads from the farm into town for school activities and work and back again at least once or twice a day. So my dad showed me how to check the oil and tire pressure, track my expenses, and handle routine maintenance.
The lessons I learned from my dad about my first car have guided me throughout my life. I believe if you value something, you should take care of it.
I value local journalism. I have from the time I started working for the weekly newspaper in the town where I would drive my blue Ford Fairlane to every day. I was a reporter and photographer and covered everything from the city council to the county fair to my neighbors doing good things. I saw firsthand the impact of what I did: my stories and images were cut and saved for scrapbooks, stirred up excitement or generated letters to the editor.
All of us who worked at that weekly paper took our role as the free press seriously and dedicated ourselves to being a trusted source of news and information for our community. I saw the same dedication to local journalism at The Daily Herald more than 30 years ago when my late husband became a photographer for the newspaper after we moved to Snohomish County.
Now I work at The Daily Herald as the newspaper’s first journalism development director. My role is to help take care of this valuable institution. It’s a job I love – but it takes more than checking oil and tire pressure and routine maintenance. It requires community help.
Community helping community is really what put me in this new position. Early in 2020, concern was spreading throughout local environmental groups that staff reductions announced by the Herald would impact its ability to cover climate change and the environment. Volunteers willing to brainstorm how we could help gathered via Zoom. I was among them. Over the next several months, we met virtually with the Herald’s executive editor and publisher and by September The Daily Herald launched its Environmental and Climate Change Reporting Fund.
My volunteer efforts to help the support group create awareness of the new reporting fund showed The Daily Herald the value of having an individual dedicated to growing community support. As the journalism development director, I still get to work with the core advocates for the Environmental and Climate Change Reporting Fund. I also get to build support for The Daily Herald’s Investigative Journalism and Report for America funds.
All three funds support local journalism that is essential to our community. They do that by accepting tax-deductible donations from individuals, businesses, and organizations, which are held by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsor. These fiscal sponsors ensure donors’ dollars are used by The Daily Herald as intended, either for investigative reporting, our Report for America corps member who covers the working class, or increased reporting on the local impacts of climate change and related environmental issues.
More than 1,200 individuals, businesses, and organizations have donated to our journalism funds so far, and that fills everyone at The Daily Herald with pride. But the need for trusted, local journalism is ongoing, so this is where community help comes in again. If you value the work The Daily Herald does, donate today – and then again – to one or all three journalism funds. As I see it that would be doing what my dad taught me: Take care of what you want to last.
Brenda Mann Harrison is the Herald’s journalism development director. She would love to talk with you, your organization, or business about supporting local journalism. Interested? Have questions? Email email@example.com or call 425-339-3452.