Opinion Columns & Blogs

We continue to be the best source for information that makes a difference

Thank you for growing with us.

Last week I wrote that despite all the digital disruption in media in the last 10 years, Whatcom County has continued to understand the value of local journalism. We’re close to year-over-year subscriber growth.

I’m delighted to report we’re even closer this week. I’ve had uplifting conversations with passionate readers.

Journalism is more than posting scanner chatter. Journalists follow up and get the details. Journalism is more than rewriting a press release or taking meeting minutes. Journalists ask questions, make connections between events and actions. On our best days, we ask pertinent questions of powerful people.

We fact-check and background and vet sources ahead of publication. Our original reporting is independent of outside influence.

The Bellingham Herald has the largest local reporting staff in Whatcom County working for you, but there are always more stories than reporters to go around. And our five reporters, plus a multi-media journalist and intern, are no match for the 46 journalists we once had.

Still, we continue to be Whatcom County’s best source for information that makes a difference in people’s lives. Here are some of the criteria we use to decide if we should write a story:

Do people need this information right now to be safe? We keep you informed with the weather, crime or natural disasters that will impact you and your family.

Is there extraordinary interest in a story? Will it celebrate this wonderful place we all call home?

Will the story right a wrong or lead the government to change? Will it hold the powerful accountable? We want to know what issues you’re concerned about. You can use this form to tell us.


Here's how to send us a confidential news tip

The Bellingham Herald believes in journalism that illuminates critical problems facing the public – the waste of public resources, government and corporate fraud, abuse of power, corruption, and injustice in all its forms. We have a commitment to telling stories that make a difference. We conduct journalism without fear or favor.

Our reporters require hard evidence of wrongdoing to tell these stories. That means relying on documents and interviews with multiple sources. If you have evidence for a story that needs to be told, please let us know.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to communicate with reporters and editors as safely and securely as possible.

Is the story something there’s an audience for? It’s not just media we compete with. It’s Facebook. And Netflix. And Youtube. And if we have not considered the community, either geographical or by topic interest, that will read and share our work, then we will not be relevant in the years to come.

Is somebody else better equipped to do the story? Lots of people tell their own stories on social media. Businesses and public agencies send out newsletters and press releases that other media pick up.

Is it something we can share rather than write? We pay the Associated Press and Tribune and New York Times news services for their stories. We try not to write stories they are covering. Readers get more news when news media cover different stories.

Regionally, we share stories from our sister McClatchy papers in the Tri-Cities, Olympia and Tacoma, particularly when they write about issues of statewide interest, or when their communities face issues also important in Whatcom County.

You’ll often see stories from the Seattle Times, which McClatchy owns just under half of, and the Skagit Valley Herald in The Bellingham Herald. They’re both parts of the Tribune News Service that we subscribe to.

Herald supporters have often asked if somebody else can write for us so we have more stories in the paper. We find it rarely works out. There are wage and hour laws and we abide by them. And, most people want to write about what they’re interested in, not what our readers are interested in.

That’s why we’re asking for you to support local journalism by subscribing to The Bellingham Herald.

For the next month, I’ll continue to write about our new digital world and how that’s changed your Bellingham Herald. I invite your questions 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.

Reporter Dave Gallagher, with Stan the Goldendoodle and daughter Ella. Mary Gallagher Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald


What do you do at the Herald: Business reporter, covering the Whatcom County economy.

Where’s home: Geneva, married to Mary Gallagher, daughter Ella. Have a four-month-old Goldendoodle named Stan.

What do you do when not working: I’m a big baseball fan, particularly the San Francisco Giants. Would like to see the Mariners win it all in my lifetime, but not optimistic. Also a recreation soccer player.

What are you reading/watching? Enjoy reading science fiction, recently finished off “A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy” by Alex White. Patiently waiting for the next season of Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle.”

Where’s your happy place? Hanging out with family. Also running around the soccer field.

What was your first job? Stocking shelves at a grocery store near Yosemite National Park at age 13.

Why’d you become a journalist? Working on a high school newspaper showed me that shining a light on injustices can lead to change.

What’s a really good day for you professionally? Getting information out to readers that they didn’t know, particularly stories that will impact their daily lives.

And the worst? Sources unwilling to be interviewed/provide information for a story and then complaining that they weren’t treated fairly when it comes out.

What did I miss about the essential you? My goal in writing stories is to be fair and accurate in order to inform readers what’s going on. I’d rather have a source tell me I treated them fairly than say they were happy with what I wrote.

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