Subscribers help us tell the community’s stories. We hope you’ll join us

We invite you to grow with us!

You’ll be hearing that a lot from us in the next six weeks.

Though all the digital disruption in media in the last 10 years, Whatcom County has continued to understand the value local journalism can offer this community. You have supported The Bellingham Herald to the point that we’re close to year-over-year subscriber growth.

We continue to have the largest local reporting staff in Whatcom County, but we need your financial support so we can continue to tell the community’s stories. We also need your input on the most pressing issues in Whatcom County so we focus our limited resources on stories that matter to the community. You can tell us what you think on this form.

We can no longer rely on advertising alone to support news. “Digital advertising businesses like Facebook and Google will be bigger in the US this year than traditional advertising businesses like TV, radio, and newspapers,” according to a Vox news story.

And almost 68% of digital advertising in 2019 will go to Google, Facebook and Amazon, according to a story on GeekWire.com.

Newspapers are certainly not the only industry struggling with the digital age, but we’ve not done a good job explaining the impact. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 71% of Americans think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially.

After years of allowing free access, we’ve recognized how much our future relies on subscribers.

That’s an uphill battle when just 14% of American adults tell Pew they have paid for local news in the past year, either through subscription, donation or membership.

That’s why we’re so grateful the residents of Whatcom County continue to support us.

For more than a century The Bellingham Herald has told you what’s going on, celebrated what makes our community stand out and held governments accountable. Now, as we celebrate this growth milestone, we’ll take the next six weeks to reintroduce ourselves. We hope you’ll share our story with friends and family and invite them to subscribe as well.

In the next few weeks I’m planning to write more about our new world and how that impacts what and how we cover Whatcom County.

I’m pretty sure you know we no longer pound out stories, in triplicate, on manual typewriters. But we can better share how we’ve adapted to the digital world.

There’s so much more to tell you about how and why we do things. But I know I’m competing with thousands of television channels and streaming services, the NFL and a sunny fall weekend for your attention.

I’ll be back next week with more about what we do and how we do it. And I invite your questions. Drop me a note by email at julie.shirley@bellinghamherald.com.

Before I go, because it’s important you know the local people who produce your news, I’ve asked the staff to help me introduce themselves. I’m going first to prove it’s not so scary.

Bellingham Herald Executive Editor Julie Shirley at Artist Point in late summer. Julie Shirley The Bellingham Herald

Introducing: Me

What do you do at The Herald: As executive editor I assign and edit stories, photos and videos; set direction for what we cover and don’t cover; work with colleagues around the nation on growing our digital tools and products.

Where’s home: I swear it was not intentional that our new office is just a mile from my house. I answer to a cranky yet sweet old gray cat.

What do you do when not working: Enjoy this beautiful place we call home, getting out walking in the trees or reading in my garden or by the fireplace. Napping is good, too.

What are you reading/watching? Mysteries and HGTV. I sometimes fall into Hallmark movies and can’t get up.

Where’s your happy place? The start of any new adventure.

What was your first job? Police records clerk/student aid in my SoCal hometown.

Why’d you become a journalist? I’ve always been nosy. And I like organizing. And it’s a lot of fun working with clever, talented people. I’ve stayed a journalist because I’ve come to understand that communities are stronger when they are reflected by local media.

What’s a really good day for you professionally? When I learn a new skill — or teach one. When news is breaking and we’re all working as fast as we can to keep up. When a story catches fire digitally and we can watch as more and more readers find it.

And the worst? When we make a mistake. When there are no good options but you still have to make a decision. When callers are mad at the internet world but swear at me.

And finally, if you were a Ben and Jerry’s flavor, what would you be? Tenacious Coffee.

Oh, and what did I miss about the essential you? I’d rather be asking the questions!

Julie Shirley directs news coverage for The Bellingham Herald and has been the executive editor since 2003. She’s been an editor in Florida, California and Washington since 1979.