Fall is peaking around the corner…

The cooler temperatures and foggy mornings are preparing us for the coming season. My canning pot is in heavy use as I prepare and put up salsa,sauces. pickles and jams to try to keep up with the abundance in the garden. This week, Buck Bay Shellfish has opened up their amazing garden to the community. They have ample veggies free for the picking. Such a generous offer!

There was an announcement this week about a consortium of Foundations rallying to support community journalism. The Press Forward Initiative strives to ‘re-center local news as a force for community cohesion; support new models and solutions that are ready to scale; and close longstanding inequities in journalism coverage and practice’.

It is unlikely that their efforts will reach as far as small rural communities such as ours. However, we are experiencing the effects of the scarcity of coverage. Many of you might remember Ted Grossman, a towering man with a resonant voice and a sharp wit. Ted was the editor, reporter, and janitor of the Sounder for many years. He spent hours attending public meetings, sporting events, and any activity that was important to record. When the Sounder was sold to a larger company and the business model changed to focus on generating revenue, Ted’s dedication and long hours were no longer a good fit.

The Sounder has continued and the company that owns it has been absorbed at least one more time since Ted’s days. Colleen Smith, the current editor, does a good job but is not provided the resources to cover the numerous meetings and events that occur each week. Occasionally she or Toby Cooper provide coverage, but most of the information published is submitted as press releases from the community. Lin McNulty keeps the Orcasonian, an online news blog, rolling, but she also lacks the resources to support a stable of reporters.

What have we lost? Quite a bit. We now read about elected commissions when they stumble. We don’t hear about the issues they are grappling with or the nuance of their decision-making. Relying on Facebook to keep current is not a great option. The Salish Current is a relatively new effort that covers the region, but it does not yet supply hyper local news.

Would our democracy be stronger if we had a robust local news source? Periodically there is a rumble about starting a local radio station or an alternative news source. What do you think? Is this something the community would be willing to take on? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Representative Deborah Lekenoff will be on Orcas Saturday. You can meet her at the Tidepool Coffee House starting at 8:30.