Dianne Foster guest writes this article. She is a local resident, a retired Aadvanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and a former Democratic Precinct Committee Officer.
I was disturbed to see the continued shrinking of our only daily print newspaper, as the Bellingham Herald once again limits itself, , in an era of right-wing populism that demands expansion, not contraction. I feel strongly about the loss of these daily publications around the country because democracy depends on a comprehensive media and engaged public. We have been subscribers since our move here in ‘93, and to other newspapers in other locations we’ve lived. There are very few letters to editor or local interest news stories these days as the shrinkage progresses. (Side note: the Herald has always had a covert policy against live coverage by photographers or reporters of local protests - unless it was the Tea Party. Not perfect by any means).
I remember the glory days of great journalists like John Stark, Margaret Bikman, Ralph Schwartz, political blogger Sam Taylor, who interviewed me about the Wall St takedown of our economy in 2009, and the appreciation I have for editor Julie Shirley, who allowed me and other activists from Occupy Bellingham, environmental and immigrant rights groups and labor unions to pen op-eds. “We the people” formed coalitions left, right, and mainstream (Trade Justice Alliance) against the Trans-Pacific Partnership rigged corporate trade deal. We needed a common media to communicate, and though mainstream media and our corporate shill elected officials portrayed us as “anti-trade,” somehow that meme did not fool the majority of people. This was about trade agreements made among global corporations with no national loyalty, not about trade itself.
Though Trump took credit for it, it was progressives that defeated the neoliberal agreement that would have enabled big Pharma, fossil fuel companies, tobacco giants, big banks and Monsanto/Bayer to have monopolies over our food supply. Per WFTC (Washington Fair Trade Coalition,) it would not have passed that last lame duck session of Congress, regardless of election outcome. Now Trump has copied and pasted this into his new version of Nafta 2.0, which we will also defeat with media cooperation.
Though the Weekly represents the best of weekly journalism, and N.W. Citizen and the Whatcom Watch represent investigative journalism, all these forms are complementary. I do hope McClatchy News Service will do the right thing to save the paper, and that everyone who can afford to will subscribe. McClatchy demonstrated leadership in their series on the banking disaster of 2009, and I would hope they can find a way out now.
I and many others are not cell users, so I need and want a kitchen table paper, regardless if this is the current “business model.” I don’t believe any democracy can survive without a vibrant press.