Readers are invited to discuss the future of the paper over coffee

Danielle Chastaine takes over as the new editor of the Renton / Covington-Maple Valley Reporter

  • Wednesday, May 15, 2019 3:51pm
  • Opinion

Did anyone else besides us news junkies see the NiemanLab article in April about how less people run for office if there is no strong local paper? I’d like to believe more people than those in this profession took an interest in the study, but just in case it was swept up in the daily flurry of trending news stories, here is a quick breakdown.

Past research has shown local newspapers that cover local elections, public meetings and issues help increase “voter turnout, reduce government corruption, make cities financially healthier, make citizens more knowledgable about politics and more likely to engage with local government, force local TV to raise its game, encourage split-ticket voting, make elected officials more responsive and efficient,” among other things listed in the article.

In a sense, newspapers are the cornerstone of small democracies. This is something reporters and editors have instinctively known, but it’s great to see actual data on how a local newspaper can positively influence its coverage area.

As the new editor of the Renton Reporter and Covington–Maple Valley Reporter, my job is to make sure our paper keeps this community’s local democracy thriving.

This is my third introduction column I’ve written in five years, and I am hoping it will be the last one for a long time. I started my journalism career at the University of Idaho when I worked for the school newspaper, the student radio station and the city paper. After graduation, I worked at my hometown’s daily paper as a general reporter before taking over a weekly nearby.

I moved to Washington in 2017 after getting married, and I have worked at two different newspaper companies before starting what I hope is a long career with Sound Publishing.

As a reporter, I mostly covered local cities, counties and state issues. In Idaho, I focused more on small rural towns, and now I am in a coastal, urban setting. What may be surprising to some is that the big issues between the two states nearly mirror each other.

Both in Idaho and in Washington readers expect us to cover the local city taxes, budgets, the police, road construction and public health issues. In both states, school districts face a lack of levy funds, failing bond measures and issues with the state legislators and school funding formulas. Population growth, rising home prices and new construction have shown to be hot button issues in both areas as well. And both my Idaho and Washington readers have wanted to know what their city and county officials were doing to make life better for their communities.

That’s my goal here as the new editor. Luckily, both the Renton Reporter and the Covington-Maple Valley Reporter have two reporters who are already elbow-deep in the local news. Both Haley Ausbun and Kayse Angel are dedicated to their papers, which in the end makes my goals for this publication easier to achieve. Now I just need to keep the ship sailing forward.

I think the best first step is to meet our readers for a listening session. I want to hear what you care about. What are the issues you think need to be focused on? What are we doing well, and what are we missing?

Come visit me during our “Coffee with the Editor” event.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 30, I’ll be at Boon Boona Coffee, 724 S. 3rd St., Renton, to talk about how our paper can continue to improve coverage of your city.

I am looking forward to meeting our audience and learning more about my new community. Together I think we can keep the local paper a strong cornerstone of our small democracy.

More in Opinion

Still more gardening to do before winter

It’s the third week of September and there is still plenty to… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Gov. Inslee passes up a chance to confront corporate ‘blackmail’

Jay Inslee had a chance recently to face his muggers. He didn’t… Continue reading

‘Butterfly effect’ brings change, good or bad, in all our lives

“Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set a… Continue reading

We all benefit when we’re open to new ideas

When I drive in my car, I often listen to the PBS… Continue reading

Fall is for hydrangeas

Don’t miss Windmill Gardens “Smart Gardening Ideas for Fall” at 10 a.m.… Continue reading

This time of year, it’s all about the harvest

The fourth week of August is time to reset for the coming… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Aug. 23

Reader worries about development deal Dear editor, The agreement with Cosmos for… Continue reading

From trade to race relations, can the U.S. take any more ‘change’?

You’ve all heard the phrase, “chickens coming home to roost.” You may… Continue reading

Recognize abuse of power

Community members can work together to recognize sexual assault

Where to place the blame for mass shootings

Who do you blame for the mass killings in Dayton and El… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Aug. 9

Reader rejects racist tag, claims school unions push ‘liberal agenda’ Dear editor,… Continue reading

July was tough month for Eyman

After getting signatures for a measure that didn’t qualify, Restore Washington wants to do its own.