Ten years of the Shoreline Area News

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Graphic by Whitney Potter

Ten years ago the U.S. had just plunged into a deep economic recession. Businesses, jobs, investments, were being cut back or lost. Newspapers were vulnerable because they are so expensive to run. The Seattle Times laid off staff and sold a six story building.

The local Enterprise chain, run from the Everett Herald, decided that they didn't really need King county and announced that the north King county edition would cease publication at the end of October. Shoreline and Lake Forest Park would again be left without local coverage.

Shoreline resident and political journalist Evan Smith worked for the Enterprise. He was distraught that the edition would close a week before a pivotal Shoreline City Council election.

Around the same time, the owner of the Ronald Bog Blog left Shoreline, informing his partner Sonya Reasor and me that we were now in charge. I had very recently been given access to the Blog because I was contributing so much content.

I had a private email list, left over from my six year stint as a PTA legislative rep. When my term of office was over, I continued sending information to local people: political "info-pinions" during political season and community events during the rest of the year.

Constantly, I heard people say that nothing happened here, and there was nothing to do. Yet I knew what vibrant, rich communities we had. People who weren't involved just didn't know about the opportunities.

Sonya, Evan, and I met to work out the details of starting a new, online publication that would cover only local news for Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. Evan would be the political writer, Sonya would provide technical expertise as well as content, and I would provide content. I thought we would all share in posting articles.

Evan and I had visions of dollar signs, but Sonya was clear from the beginning that she wasn't interested in money and would not be involved long-term. She set us up on a Google platform, created the leafy masthead, posted some wonderful articles and photos, and moved to West Seattle.

Evan happily covered the election and years of local politics.

And I discovered just how much work it was to lay out articles on a slightly buggy platform, let alone pull in enough content to publish. Taking ads would be whole new levels of work.

I am not a journalist. I am not a businessperson. I am a volunteer and a networker and a communicator with a strong social services bent.

When we started the Shoreline Area News there were a hundred local blogs around Puget Sound. Almost all of them are gone - most within the first year. The Seattle Times recruited our "hyper-local publications" to partner with them. My group of a dozen had two that are still very successful - the B-Town blog in Burien has multiple editions and covers south King county. The My Neighborhood News group run by Teresa Wippel has three editions in south Snohomish county.

Teresa and I have a strong alliance which I appreciate greatly. She has a successful business model, has employees, and pays her writers and photographers.

I pay in "fame and fortune" and am more grateful than I can say for all the people who contribute to the SAN.

There's a lot of technical work behind the scenes. Sonya continued to support me even after she moved but we were both relieved when Carl Dinse stepped in. I had actually gone looking for Carl because I heard he had a photo of Edmount Island on fire. (That's the island in the middle of Lake Ballinger. It's peat and occasionally burns for a few months at a time). When I found him and the photo, he said he had a weather station in Shoreline and would I be interested in weather reports?

Carl is a tech professional and donates large amounts of time on a weekly basis keeping the SAN running. He also contributes occasional photos, and of course, his wonderful hyperlocal weather reports. He has added a weather station in Richmond Beach and is close to opening one in Lake Forest Park.

Another person who has been with me almost from the beginning is Steve Robinson. Steve is a police chief. Right now he has come out of retirement to run the Bellevue College police department while they are between chiefs. I knew him as a PTA volunteer, an 8 year Shoreline School Board member, and a former board member of the Shoreline Schools Foundation. I didn't know he was a photographer until he offered to take photos for me.

I have a crew of wonderful photographers, some of whom are turning into reporters! The current crew includes, besides Steve, Wayne Pridemore, Mike Remarcke, Lee Lageschulte, Marc Weinberg, Jerry Pickard, and all the people who have sent in photos of what they see, like Seattle Poppy.

Jan Hansen keeps an eye on Puget Sound, researches vessels, and is the major contributor to the Scene on the Sound feature. Gloria Z Nagler takes incredible animal and insect photos and captions them with humorous text that make them come alive.

When Frank Workman left town, he gifted me with Rob Oxford, who covers Shorecrest football and the world at large. Frank still contributes, thanks to the reach of the internet. Thanks to the coaches and parents who send in sports information. Clark Norton's wrestling reports are so interesting that he has developed his own following.

Many people over the years have spent time doing major reporting in the SAN and then moved on to other things - like paying jobs! I'm afraid to start naming people because I know I would leave someone out - but I have to name Pam Cross, who is currently covering Shoreline City Council meetings.

I am so fortunate to have Whitney Potter and his wonderful, punny cartoons. He has won at least two art awards in the past couple of years and I'm proud to have him associated with the SAN.

Donna Hawkey is now writing articles and covering some events. Christine Southwick has been writing her charming and informative For the Birds column for years. Aarene Storms doesn't write her book reviews just for the SAN but has allowed us to publish them.

I've had several gardeners write for the SAN. When one moves on, another steps up. Victoria Gilleland's "In the Garden Now" features her own garden in Lake Forest Park with her beautiful flower photos.

Doug Gochanour wrote theatre reviews for a long time. I still haven't been able to replace him.

If I haven't mentioned your name, please don't feel slighted. I appreciate you all more than I can say. I appreciate the people who send in tips and photos of accidents and protests and cute kids (but get the parent's permission!)

My wish list includes restaurant reviews - amateurs welcome - someone to cover LFP council meetings the way that Pam does for Shoreline. Also theatre reviews - not critics but someone to talk about the productions. We have a lot of local theatre so there's room for more than one.

Someone to cover the school board - they speak a jargon and acronym filled language there so it can't be just anyone. I really miss Marianne Stephens!

And right now I'd really appreciate someone who can find a free program to distribute the email digest.

If you do not know, we publish on the web, then the same content goes to Facebook, Twitter, and the email digest which you can subscribe to. I would appreciate it if you would tell your friends and neighbors about the SAN and if your organizations can make sure your members know about our publications.

So here's to the years to come!

Diane Hettrick


Luanne Brown October 30, 2019 at 6:45 AM  

Thank you, Diane. Our community would not be the same without your good-natured, insightful, and dedicated contributions.

Vicki Stiles October 30, 2019 at 9:33 AM  

Thank you Diane, and everyone who supports you and SAN, for your great service to the community.

Norman J Lieberman October 30, 2019 at 10:00 AM  

Love you, Diane, and all you do for our communities! Thank you for the past 10 years, and here’s a toast to 10 more years!

Carolyn Armanini,  October 30, 2019 at 11:02 AM  

Thank you, Diane, for the wonderful service you provide to the community!

Donna October 30, 2019 at 7:31 PM  

You rock Diane! It is such a pleasure to work with you, thank you for everything you do for our communities!

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