Opinion

Help bring local history to the pages of your newspaper | Publisher's Column

A community newspaper is a historical record.

With every edition of the Whidbey News-Times, events are recorded for posterity. On a regular basis, as I unlock my office door, there is someone poring through the back issues of the newspaper, furiously taking notes.

At times I fear it is forgotten — even by those of us in the newspaper business — that our responsibility goes beyond reporting the news of the day.

In 1999, when I became the publisher of the newspaper in Yelm, I was horrified to learn that, several years earlier, as the sale of the newspaper was taking place, the previous owner opened his doors and invited the community to come in and take whatever photographs they wanted.

Essentially, local history accumulated over nearly eight decades was scattered to the wind.

I spent the next 13 years trying to locate some of that history and share it with the community by seeking photos to publish in the newspaper. Some photos undoubtedly fell into private collections. Others went to the local museum.

While a museum will certainly preserve that history, it was a small organization run by volunteers. There was nobody dedicated to locating or identifying old photos, or who could regularly work with the newspaper to share them with the community.

One of my objectives as editor of the Whidbey News-Times is to bring local history to life within the pages of the newspaper.

After posting some historical photos on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/whidbeynews, it quickly became apparent people want to see more.

I will be meeting with Peggy Darst Townsdin, author of the book “Oak Harbor,” to launch a new feature in the newspaper called “Looking Back.” Darst Townsdin has generously agreed to share some of her photos with the newspaper.

I believe there are countless other photos out there that will help tell the story of our island communities, and I am hoping that others, like Darst Townsdin, will share that rich history.

If you have photos from the 1960s and earlier that you believe others would like to see, please email me at kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com

Let’s work together to bring local history to the pages of your community newspaper.

 

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