Our editor, Kathy Boyd, is retiring. She’s so knowledgeable and such a workhorse that I wonder how we could ever hope to eventually replace all her energy and expertise.
Evan Caldwell will take on much of her work. He knows a lot about what goes on in various departments, but not everything.
Lately in the next room, I hear Kathy imparting administrative knowledge to Evan, going over lists of things that keep the paper running, including working with teammates here, at Skagit Valley Herald and beyond.
I know that the internet has changed how people get news, yet I believe that the small, local newspaper is still an important community resource.
We cover news that locals won’t find anywhere else. We run ads that help customers shop locally and keep businesses in business and money in the community. We list legal notices, government actions, events and ways for people to connect and celebrate living in this extraordinary place.
Social media has changed things: press releases and events show up online, but it’s hit-or-miss whether people see them. Posts about local issues are full of misinformation and devolve into trollish personal attacks. Long posts are less news than gossip and a chore to wade through.
That’s why we work so hard to examine issues, lay out facts concisely and give people a sounding board in the letters to the editor. This is what Kathy has been doing all her career, making the leap from paper to the internet. Our online publication has extra photos plus breaking news before print publication.
Even while the internet has changed how we offer the news, we learn from the past. Our cupboards are full of newspapers going back to 1898, created by generations of people, like Kathy, who devoted their lives to asking questions, pounding out the news, meeting deadlines, compiling details. It’s the historic record.
We cover today’s issues and often look up context in the historical stacks. People come in regularly to search the back editions and see how history repeats even today. I wonder what would happen if newspaper workers vanish and everyone got their news from mixed facts, opinion and hearsay on the internet. People would be far less informed, and the historic record would be lost in the clutter, if a record remains at all.
As Kathy leaves, we carry on.
Thank you, Kathy for your career dedicated to local news. And thank you, readers who care about real news. Your patronage keeps us going through the generations.
Contact reporter Peggy Wendel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-416-2189.