One year of Now: We’re celebrating our first anniversary
Gig Harbor Now came into existence at precisely 6 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2021.
That’s when the new nonprofit news website published stories about a new roundabout planned for the Harborview-Stinson intersection; school construction; a looming toll increase on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge; a poetry walk; and a story about us, and how we came to be.
That’s all ordinary (but crucial!) community news fare. But it was the result of some extraordinary effort by many people who labored for years to make Gig Harbor Now a reality.
What we do
We’ve published 479 more stories (as of Sept. 1) since those first five articles went live. We had more than 87,000 online page views in the month of July, after barely clearing 16,000 in our first month.
It’s been quite a year.
Since we’re still pretty young in the news game, we’re taking the occasion of our first birthday to re-introduce ourselves to anyone who missed it the first time around.
As Charlee Glock-Jackson explained in the very first article we published, the story of Gig Harbor Now’s birth starts with the demise of a predecessor publication.
Gig Harbor Life was a weekly newspaper published by the Kitsap Sun. The Sun and its parent company, Gannett, opted to cease publication of Gig Harbor Life in 2018.
Charlee was the primary freelance reporter for Gig Harbor Life, and she made it her mission to create something to replace it.
“We were convinced that we had a strong, loyal readership base that would support another paper,” Charlee said.
Three years elapsed between the end of Gig Harbor Life and the launch of Gig Harbor Now. Charlee did much to keep the idea alive. Things really started happening once the Pats got involved.
Pat Lantz is our board president and Pat Schmidt is our vice president.
Schmidt is a longtime local business owner who has been involved in the Chamber, Downtown Waterfront Alliance, Rotary and just about every other local civic organization. She got involved when she became convinced that “we were not going to have any local newspaper here in Gig Harbor that was going to carry the news the way we’ve always had it. Produced by local people … true local news.”
Lantz is a former state legislator and state parks commissioner. She’s also a self-described “news junkie” who views independent journalism as a key component of a democratic society.
Gig Harbor Now allows the community to “have more information to work with, and we can react in a more informed and concerted way,” Lantz said.
“Shared, trustworthy news and information can be the bond that connects the community,” she added. “Vital connective tissue suffers when the flow of information shuts down or is not fact-checked as is true of so much of social media. Gig Harbor Now repairs it.”
Jenny Wellman is our treasurer, bringing extensive experience as a nonprofit executive director. Board member Lynda Filson contributed key organizational development skills.
We operate as a nonprofit, with support from community members and charitable foundations. Read more about that critical aspect of our operation here.
Journalism by journalists
A critical component to our early success is that we have a bunch of pros writing our stories.
In this modern era of smart phones and social media, it has become fashionable to think that everyone is a journalist.
That’s true, to an extent. Anyone can see news happening, take a photo or video and post it for the world to see inside of a few minutes.
But we believe there is value in having trained, experienced professionals available and willing to go to city council and school board meetings, write about local crime issues, and cover high school sports. Professionals who can provide context and background to the news that everyone saw and took video of with their smartphones.
- Editor Vince Dice is our only full-time employee. We operate with freelance reporters, most of whom are retired following careers at daily newspapers.
- Ed Friedrich is our founding editor and one of our primary reporters. He has lived in Gig Harbor for more than 40 years and retired in 2018 after 35 years in various roles at the Kitsap Sun.
- Reporter David Armstrong worked as a writer, copy editor and columnist at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle for decades. He also wrote or co-wrote five nonfiction books.
- Reporter Christina Henry was a longtime education, local government and features writer for the Kitsap Sun. She covers the Peninsula School District for Gig Harbor Now.
- Glock-Jackson, with her many years covering the city for Gig Harbor Life and being involved in its goings-on, has forgotten more about the local area than most people ever know.
- Not that everyone has to have a journalism degree. Dennis Browne didn’t have a background in journalism when he signed on with us last winter, just a passion for local sports. Now he covers our local high school teams, along with occasional features about fishing and martial arts studios.
We publish a weekly newsletter, providing all the headlines for the week in the Gig Harbor area. Sign up here.
We have an online calendar, where local community groups can post events and people can find them. Check that out here.
We publish free obituaries of people who lived in or were connected to the Gig Harbor area. You can submit one here.
We have a great group of contributors who work hard to keep the Gig Harbor community well-informed. We’d love to have even more contributors, though. If you or someone you know is interested in working with us as a freelance writer, contact Dice at [email protected].
In the future we hope to launch a reporting internship program to help younger people to explore careers in local news.
We’ll continue to explore other new ways of being the “eyes, ears and voice of our community.” That’s our mission statement. If you want to help, you can donate to the cause, like our Facebook page, share our stories, retweet us. Mostly, just read our articles and tell your friends about us.
In the meantime, we’ll keep telling Gig Harbor’s stories. Thanks for supporting us. Our best days are ahead.