Staff Editorials

Persistence pays in launch of new Gig Harbor news organization

Posted on September 3rd, 2021 By:

Welcome to Gig Harbor Now.

For almost a decade, people in Gig Harbor and beyond relied on a weekly newspaper — Gig Harbor Life — to provide accurate, timely news about goings-on at City Hall, stories about noteworthy things community organizations and ordinary folks were doing, and a calendar of upcoming events like school board meetings, art shows, music and theater performances, AA meetings and more.

Gig Harbor Now board members and staff celebrate the launch of the news organization. In the front, from left, are Charlee Glock-Jackson, Pat Lantz, Linda Filson and Pat Schmidt. Across the back are Ed Friedrich, Brady Friedrich, Jenny Wellman and Olga Torres-Inglebritson.

Gig Harbor Now board members and staff celebrate the launch of the news organization. In the front, from left, are Charlee Glock-Jackson, Pat Lantz, Linda Filson and Pat Schmidt. Across the back are Ed Friedrich, Brady Friedrich, Jenny Wellman and Olga Torres Inglebritson. Brady Friedrich / Gig Harbor Now

Ric Hallock was editor of Gig Harbor Life. I did most of the writing. Together we shot most of the pictures, except for photos submitted by readers that we ran each week.

Readers trusted Gig Harbor Life. They liked us. They read our stories faithfully and supported our local advertisers.

Gig Harbor Life was owned by the Kitsap Sun and was distributed — free — to thousands of mailboxes and dozens of drop points. When the Sun was purchased by Gannett, which was, in turn, bought by a hedge fund, Gig Harbor Life was discontinued and our town lost its “voice.”

Ric and I went through the proverbial grief spectrum — anger, frustration, sadness, disbelief, more anger. It hurt. A lot. And it hurt our readers, too. Hundreds wrote to the publisher of the Sun, asking him to reconsider. But it was a done deal. The last edition of Gig Harbor Life was published in May 2018.

But even before it hit the streets, Ric and I were making plans to start a new newspaper, picking up where Gig Harbor Life left off. We called it Gig Harbor Now (Ric’s idea). In his final column, Ric announced our plans and asked for volunteers to help us launch the new paper. Lori Bonvicini, an avid “Life” reader and retired stockbroker, soon joined us.

That was more than three years ago.

In the years since, many interested people came and went, each recognizing the need for a reliable, consistent news source that focused on local, Gig Harbor-centric news, each wanting to help. Many (too many) meetings were spent debating the pros and cons of creating a for-profit, limited-liability corporation versus a nonprofit organization. But nothing happened.

We spun our wheels for a long time, but never let go of our vision.

In 2019, several new people joined the effort, including former state representatives Pat Lantz and Larry Seaquist and former Kitsap Sun reporter Ed Friedrich. They brought new ideas, new energy, new enthusiasm — and new skills — and soon reached out to Jenny Wellman, former executive director of the Gig Harbor Film Festival; Olga Torres Inglebritson, dean of TCC Gig Harbor; tech wizard and entrepreneur Brady Friedrich; retired business owner Pat Schmidt and Lynda Filson, retired business executive and well-known volunteer.

They formed a board of directors, decided that becoming a community-based nonprofit news organization was the best business model for Gig Harbor Now, wrote up bylaws and articles of incorporation, and incorporated as a nonprofit business. We’re pending 501(c)(3) status with the IRS and being fiscally sponsored by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation in the interim.

You’re reading our very first online edition. We’re totally jazzed to be up and running. Although Ric has moved on to be editor of the East County Journal up in the Cascades, Ed Friedrich has stepped in to be interim editor of GHN. Ed has 40 years of journalism experience. He’s a longtime Gig Harbor resident and really has his finger on the proverbial pulse of our community.

We’re a great team – and Ed is looking to expand our staff with another experienced journalist or two.

Gig Harbor Now will cover the goings-on at City Hall, arts and cultural events, business news, sports, good things being done by local people and organizations that are worth knowing. We’ll educate our readers about the original inhabitants of Gig Harbor who lived here for untold generations before the arrival of the white pioneer settlers. In short, we intend to be your connection to your community — our community.

Our vision is to be “the eyes, ears and voice” of the Harbor. We intend to encourage and motivate an informed, engaged and involved citizenry and inspire civic engagement. We’ll serve our readers, supporters and advertisers through accurate, credible, unbiased reporting of local news and events. We’ll provide a forum for the people of the Greater Gig Harbor area. And we’ll develop an internship program for local students.

We’re starting as an online news source and will publish new stories frequently. As soon as it’s financially feasible, we’ll add a printed newspaper. The timing of that is up to you. The more support we get from our readers, leaders, funders and local business community, the sooner we’ll launch the printed paper. Personally, I’m eagerly anticipating that day.

So if you have a story that deserves to be told, get in touch with us via the Contact page.

We’re all in this together.