Brenda Mann Harrison

Brenda Mann Harrison

Have we heard from you yet?

The Daily Herald wants to listen and learn from our readers.

  • Brenda Mann Harrison
  • Sunday, July 17, 2022 1:54pm
  • Local News

Life lessons — and reminders of the lessons we may have once learned — often come at unexpected times. For me, it was a summer evening potluck earlier this month.

Friends chatted while sausages sizzled on the grill. The talk turned to topics that generated opposing viewpoints. One of my friends stayed silent. When asked why she hadn’t chimed in, she replied, “I prefer to listen because listening is one of the best ways to learn.”

She’s right. We all can learn a lot by listening, yet it’s one of the hardest things to do. It’s not easy to understand what someone is really saying through spoken or written words when your mind is busy disagreeing with them or you’re distracted by hundreds of other details. True listening takes focus and time, and the outcome can have a real impact.

Our reporters at The Daily Herald are out in the community listening all the time.

Because they take time to learn about an issue and dig deep into the details, you benefit from the information they share and the stories they tell. Not everything will be what you want to hear or the way you expect things to be, but our public service mission is to make our communities and democracy stronger by informing and engaging you.

We know that the reporting we’re doing makes a difference because we’ve been listening to you.

This is what Herald reporter Isabella Breda heard in a voice message from Toni Silicio, who was responding to Isabella’s investigation about Native American boarding schools, “Tulalip’s Stolen Children”: “I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so compelling in my life.”

We also heard feedback from Ken Goetsch after the Herald published Zachariah Bryan’s story about the threat of dike failure along Skagit Bay near Stanwood. Ken said he alerted three commissioners for Island County and added, “It appears that your article is a wake up call for many of us who live on Camano Island. … You do a great service to the community with coverage like this.”

Listening to you and learning how our journalism makes a difference is important to all of us at the Herald. So, please, take the time to tell our reporters when their work helped you to learn, prompted you to take action or made your day a bit brighter.

You can also tell us how were doing by taking our Community Listening Survey at heraldnet.com/listening-survey. We designed the survey to be a quick and easy way for you to share what’s important to you.

More than 600 people have already taken the Community Listening Survey. If you haven’t, please join in before the survey closes July 29. Getting feedback from the wide range of individuals who live throughout Snohomish and Island counties will really help us understand how we can serve our community better.

After we review the survey results, we’ll share what we learned in another column like this and at Listening Conversations we’ll host on Zoom from August through October with Phil O’Connor, the Herald’s executive editor. We’ll let you know next month how you can register to join a Listening Conversation.

There’s one important thing to keep in mind: Although the Herald is committed to listening and learning, we might not be able to act on everything we hear. We simply do not have enough resources to cover all the news that is important to our community. That’s a reality most newsrooms across the country face. That’s why the Herald — like many local newspapers — has come up with creative ways for the community to support the reporting they value. We currently have three journalism funds that accept tax-deductible donations from individuals, businesses and foundations.

These funds give us the ability to do more reporting we would not otherwise be able to do, and we’re working on additional journalism initiatives that will increase our reporting even more. You can learn more — and donate today — at heraldnet.com/local-news-impact.

If you have questions about our journalism initiatives or would like to talk about the role of local news, please reach out to me. I’m ready to listen.

Brenda Mann Harrison is the journalism development director for The Daily Herald. She writes “Local News Impact” to raise awareness of how community-supported journalism benefits Snohomish and Island counties. You can reach her at brenda.harrison@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3452.

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