“Sounding the pulse since 1883.”
Those words are written on the plaque outside The Vidette building on Marcy Avenue in Montesano. That’s what I hope to accomplish during my term as editor at this Grays Harbor County institution.
I hope to express to whoever will read that the people of East County are alive and care about their community and beyond. They grow and learn and procreate and celebrate. They mourn and laud and remember and endure.
I hope to continue the tradition of sounding the pulse of the community.
And with that charge, I want the people of East County to know that The Vidette is not “the enemy of people” as President Donald Trump has claimed numerous times of the press. Nor am I your enemy.
Today, I answer The Boston Globe’s call to denounce President Trump for his near-continual attacks on the free press.
His attacks are, however, a shining example of his constitutionally protected right for freedom of speech. This nation’s Founding Fathers enshrined that right in the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
However, what President Trump also is saying is “Trust only me.”
There’s a saying in journalism that I learned about 20 years ago: If your mother tells you she loves you, get a second source.
The news is not the enemy. Ignorance is the enemy.
Trump wants ignorant followers. He wants them to get their information only from him.
Ignorance is what I’m trying to prevent.
I promise to do my best to attend school board meetings, city and county commission meetings, port meetings, high school baseball track meets, Little League games. The list goes on.
But I need your help.
I need somebody to read this stuff. I need somebody to help tell me what’s going on in the community, what’s going right and what’s going wrong.
I promise you that I will be loyal to the East County community (my fierce loyalty to my community has gotten me in trouble in past jobs).
I promise you, if you subscribe and help me, I will get people to help me with it. And we will do it better.
Today, there is one person working in The Vidette building.
By the time this paper is published, I will have been on the job for about a month. And on the day I leave — hopefully a long time from now — I’m sure I’ll still be saying, “I’m trying to get to know the community” and fighting my own ignorance.
The city of Montesano will be here long after I’m gone. But as long as there are taxes, there will always be a need for information on how that money is spent.
The first edition of The Chehalis Valley Vidette — published Feb. 1, 1883 — is four pages. There are minutiae in it from around the world, such as in Toronto, a “cowboy pays $35 for a six-year-old horse” and “In new Caledonia they serve up spiders” to eat.
Inside is the local fare. There is an item about how M.F. Laurk will “shortly proceed to Portland for the purpose of purchasing a circular saw and a planer.” There’s a note from the Elma special correspondent stating, “With the exception of whooping cough, our community is in excellent health” and “There is talk of the members of the Roman Catholic Church building a church here soon.”
Also inside that first edition is a plea for subscribers. It’s another tradition I continue today.
If you stop by the the offices, I can show you a copy of the first Chehalis Valley Vidette. It’s falling to pieces. It’s poorly preserved in a crumbling book on a shelf in the 107-year-old building built to house your newspaper.
It’s a terrifying metaphor for journalism in general. If the investment in time and money are not made, soon it could turn to dust.
Please help keep the pulse of The Vidette, and journalism everywhere, beating.