Encounters with a tow truck driver and a dentist

The value of local journalism shows up in unexpected conversations.

I needed a tow. Luckily, I had made it into the parking lot at The Daily Herald office before I lost all air pressure in my left rear tire, but my electric vehicle doesn’t have a spare and I had a looming dentist appointment in the afternoon.

Thankfully, a tow truck arrived within the hour, as promised when I made the call for help.

After exchanging greetings and required information, the driver, Jarrod, asked me what I did for The Herald. I told him that my role as journalism development director was to increase awareness of the value of local journalism and encourage community support.

Jarrod looked me in the eye and bluntly said he doesn’t trust the news media. Then he leaned against the back of his truck, crossed his arms, and challenged me: “Convince me why I should.”

The look in Jarrod’s eyes, in contrast to his other body language, told me he was willing to listen and engage in a conversation. So I set aside my worry about getting my flat tire repaired in time to get to a dentist appointment and took Jarrod all the way back in time to when I first fell in love with local newspapers as a reporter for my community weekly.

I told him I saw firsthand how important the local newspaper was to the residents in my hometown because the information, news and features made a difference in their lives. I shared how we told the stories of our neighbors with care. I told him I see that same dedication to local journalism in everyone at The Herald, and that our reporters are focused on being accurate and truthful.

Truthful. Jarrod repeated that back to me. Truth resonated with him. It’s what he thinks is lacking in the media.

I said that our readers trust us because we’re their local newspaper. The Herald – and local newspapers like us – offers what other media can’t: stories and information that are important here, to our community. Our reporters are part of this community, and telling our community’s stories with accuracy and truth matters to them.

Again, I emphasized the care we take at The Herald to do local journalism in a way that makes a difference.

Okay, Jarrod said. And then he went about the business of preparing my car for towing. I watched the many steps he went through to hook up my car for wheel-lift towing. I’ve had previous vehicles towed by a flatbed, so I asked him about the difference between the two methods. Jarrod said wheel-lift towing requires more effort, more care. Lifting his head from his work with a wide grin he said, “It’s like the local newspaper version of towing.”

That kind of towing made a difference to me, and I am grateful to Jarrod for our honest exchange about local news. My car made it quickly and safely to the local tire store where my tire was replaced in time for me to make it to my dentist appointment – for another unexpected conversation about the value of journalism.

The dentist shares his story

My dentist greeted me by saying he had read my Local News Impact column last month and wanted to know more about our journalism funds. While we waited for the numbing medication to take full effect before he could start prep work for a crown on one of my molars, he gave me a glimpse of why he valued trusted, local journalism.

He grew up in a country where the news was controlled by the government. What he heard from that state-owned media was the truth, as far as he knew. He never questioned it because he didn’t have access to other sources of information to tell him anything different.

His family moved to the United States when he was 14 years old, and it was only then that he discovered the real history of the country where he was born and how much it differed from what he was told and asked to memorize.

Since then, he said, he has learned to appreciate how precious democracy is and how easily it can be taken away when truth cannot be told. That is why he believes journalism is essential. Without trusted local news, facts can be hidden or rewritten for the convenience of those in power.

There’s no doubt about it. Local news has an impact. We know that because of what we hear from you, our readers.

Some of the comments The Herald received throughout last year are included in our 2022 Community Impact Report. This new report highlights a few of the local news stories that brought about change or brought us together. It also showcases some of the work made possible by our community-funded journalism initiatives.

I encourage you to make time to read the 2022 Community Impact Report at heraldnet.com/local-news-impact. Then, share it with your family, friends and colleagues. Tell them about the impact The Herald has on you, and encourage them to join you in supporting local journalism.

Keep in mind you can also have an impact on local news by staying informed of legislation and issues that impact the viability of local newspapers, like The Herald.

Let those who represent you at the state and federal level know that you value journalism. And let The Herald and our reporters know throughout the year that you value their work and the stories we tell about our community.

Brenda Mann Harrison

Brenda Mann Harrison

Brenda Mann Harrison is the journalism development director for The Daily Herald. To learn more about the impact of local news and how you can join others in supporting community journalism, go to heraldnet.com/local-news-impact, send an email to brenda.harrison@heraldnet.com or call 425-339-3452. The Daily Herald maintains editorial control over content produced through community-funded initiatives.

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