It’s time to celebrate and say thanks

Local journalism — and community support — will be the stars of Behind the News Stories on Oct. 24 in Edmonds.

If you care about the local news you get because of The Daily Herald and you’re interested in knowing what happens behind the scenes, join us for Behind the News Stories from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

This fall party has it all – refreshments, music and a trivia contest in the lobby followed by a unique program in the theater, including behind-the-scenes videos featuring “Something’s in the air” and “Investigating the investigators” and question-and-answer time with the news team.

In addition, we’ll have a special tribute to a former Daily Herald editor who was passionate about local journalism.

You’ll find more details about how to register for this free event at the end of this column, but first, I want to share another reason to attend Behind the News Stories.

This special evening gives you and The Herald a chance to shine. We get the opportunity to say thanks to our community for supporting reporting that makes a difference, and you have the chance to meet some of the individuals who do the important work of local journalism — and to thank them.

We expect a lot from everyone who works in the newspaper business — accuracy, timeliness, a thorough understanding of the situation (and often on a tight deadline), clear writing, news without bias, adequate attention to the most important issues, the ability to cover almost anything and everything, including emotionally difficult stories, and the information delivered in the way and when you want to receive it.

Although newspapers across the country have lost more than 70% of their annual revenue and 26% or more of their workforce between 2008 and 2020, according to the Pew Research Center, individuals still want to be journalists. Thank goodness.

The Herald hosted three high school and two post-secondary-school interns over the summer, and young people still move to Everett to work in the newsroom.

About 40 years ago, my husband and I were young people who moved to Snohomish County to work for The Daily Herald. Mark had been offered a three-month internship at The Herald after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia and winning a prestigious national photo contest, so we packed our belongings into his parents’ RV and moved out west. I was almost eight months pregnant at the time and money was tight — even though we both had been working while Mark was finishing school and I was still wrapping up an editing project. We knew what we were getting into by choosing to work in the newspaper business.

We both were on the news staff of our hometown weekly while in high school and during our summers home from college. (Mark’s parents owned the newspaper. His dad was the publisher, his mom the editor.) And when we were away at school, we worked for our college newspapers, plus a community magazine and other news-related gigs to help pay the bills.

If it weren’t for the generosity and kindness of a Herald employee who let us stay at their family’s summer cabin when we moved to the Everett area in September of 1984, I’m not sure how we would have financially managed. We still ended up needing food assistance and once our baby arrived, we left for home within hours of the delivery to keep the hospital bill as low as possible.

We made other sacrifices along the way, but we were determined to make it because having the chance to make a difference by working in journalism was that important to us. Eventually, Mark accepted a position as a photojournalist for the Seattle Times, where he ended up working for nearly 30 years. Because of the travel required at the time for his work and the expenses of raising a family, I moved into a different career path so Mark could continue his passion for telling stories through photos.

When my life abruptly changed after Mark died and I had a couple of years to consider how I could make a difference in a different way, I became the first development director at the Herald in 2021, starting a new job at the same newspaper that first brought me out to the Pacific Northwest in my in-laws’ RV decades ago. In my role, I continue to be an advocate for local journalism. I get to share my passion for the impact a local newspaper has on the health of our community and democracy — and I get to ask for financial support and help you understand why.

Almost every day I am encouraged by the response The Herald gets from the community. One of the many people who completed the Listening Survey we sent out this past summer added this comment, “Please keep writing about the importance of supporting newspapers and journalists. It is SO important to keep you guys in business!”

I’m following that advice and sharing, once again, why it’s important to support newspapers. The finance model that sustained local journalism for a long time is broken. Newspapers once relied on advertising and subscriptions to cover the costs of conveying important local information to the public. Over the past decades, however, big tech has monopolized advertising and unfairly reused local news’ content and data, sapping newspapers of the revenue that once paid to put reporters and photographers on the street.

The drastic reduction in the journalism workforce has taken a heavy toll, making it challenging to cover all the news that a community needs to know. That’s a big change. According to John Palfrey, MacArthur Foundation president: “Part of it is actually shifting the mindset … this is a public good, we need to put more public money into it, we need to put more foundation money into it, we need to put more personal money into it — otherwise we’re not going to have a democracy.”

Each dollar spent on local news brings hundreds in public benefits to communities, according to “Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism,” a book by economist James T. Hamilton. Partnerships between philanthropists and fact-based newsrooms nationwide actually strengthen democracy and support public well-being, according to Hamilton.

Studies show a loss in local news not only leads to declines in civic engagement, voting rates and contested elected races, it also increases government costs as a result of lack of scrutiny. The demise of local news could be reversed, according to Steven Waldman, president of Rebuild Local News and a co-founder of Report for America. In an August article in The Atlantic, Waldman wrote: “If more public or philanthropic money were directed toward sustaining local news, it would most likely produce financial benefits many times greater than the cost.”

As the development director for The Herald — and a member of this community — I want to thank all the individuals, organizations, businesses and public funders who support The Herald through subscriptions, advertising and donations to our journalism funds. These community-supported initiatives increase the Herald’s capacity to add positions to cover critical reporting we would not otherwise be able to do.

So let’s celebrate local journalism — what it does for our community and everyone who makes it happen. Join us for Behind the News from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. The event is free, but you must register by Oct. 20.

RSVP now for Behind the News Stories at

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, send an email to or call 425-339-3452. The Daily Herald maintains editorial control over content produced through community-funded initiatives.

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