Changes at Whatcom Watch

Dan Reese

This is a period of transition for the Whatcom Watch. With our longtime editor, Bob Schober, moving on, we’re searching for a replacement editor interested in guiding the paper going forward. The job is an unusual one as there is no Whatcom Watch newsroom or office and a minimal staff. As this search may take some time, I’ve agreed to take on some of the editing responsibilities for the next few months. I hope to continue the Whatcom Watch’s tradition of thorough, varied coverage of local political and environmental matters during this period.

I’ve had a rather discursive career, and hardly one I would have expected. I grew up in Anchorage and went to college at the Evergreen State College in Olympia. I’ve worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in Cairo, as well as working in schools in Alaska and California and studying teaching at WWU’s Woodring College of Education. I’ve also worked as a writer and copy editor at the monthly magazines Egypt Today and Business Today Egypt, as well as Horus, the inflight magazine for EgyptAir. From there I moved to a position of editor at ICT Business, a monthly trade magazine covering the Egyptian technology and communication sector. For the past six years I’ve worked at nonprofits, doing early childhood education and youth homelessness prevention. When I was asked to consider the temporary editor position, I was excited by the prospect of revisiting the world of journalism. I am hopeful that the experience will help me learn more about the community I’ve called home for more than ten years.

Why Whatcom Watch Matters
As massive media corporations merge and consolidate, the available space for community-level coverage has contracted. Online distribution has impacted the available advertising money, causing many publications to cut back coverage or shutter their businesses entirely. Social media can sometimes serve as an echo chamber, filtering out diverse views, confirming our own biases and exacerbating political division.

In this 21st century media environment, local, independent news outlets like the Whatcom Watch provide a crucial service. Local issues have an impact on our lives that’s clearer and more immediate than national and global issues, and we are often more willing to hear out opposing viewpoints when we can look one another in the eye.

There is no shortage of contentious and complicated problems facing Whatcom County: rental and home prices spiraling out of control, a growing homelessness issue, water use disputes, rising healthcare costs and the logjam surrounding the development of a new jail are just a few of the challenges. I hope that the Watch can continue to serve as a place where these issues can be explored in a civil, thoughtful way as we work together to identify effective solutions.

Lastly, I’d like to put out a call to our readers: Whatcom Watch depends on the contributions of local writers bringing diverse personal and professional perspectives to local readers. If you feel you have a story to tell that would be of interest to our readers, please reach out to us.  To contact me: editor@whatcomwatch.org

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