The first copy of the Tri-City Herald hit the streets on Nov. 13, 1947.
On Monday, we celebrate 70 years of recording community activities and notable events in the lives of Mid-Columbians.
It is a responsibility we take seriously every day.
A big part of our job is reporting on major happenings, but another part is acknowledging what many might consider the small stuff.
That is what a community newspaper is all about — recognizing the significance in every-day life.
It’s why we document births and deaths, bankruptcies, arrests and jury verdicts. That’s why we care about the weather, and provide monthly roundups, chronicling record temperatures and snowfall.
When a new business opens, we help spread the word. When charities need a boost, we let people know how they can help.
We cheer for our school athletes and acknowledge other student achievements. We honor our high school and college graduates, and we note scholarship winners and those who make the honor roll.
Our Letters to the Editor section provides a safety valve for people wanting to share their opinions. In our online platform, our Facebook page is another way people discuss their views — although perhaps not as thoughtfully crafted as they could be.
As a community newspaper, we acknowledge our veterans and heroic efforts by police, firefighters and other first responders. We also recognize the good deeds of average citizens.
When there is unrest in the community, or a controversy, we want to be the source for facts presented with an objective voice.
When a family is in trouble, loses a house in a fire or has a sick child and insurmountable medical bills, we tell those stories. Inevitably our community rallies to help them out.
If one of our own is tragically killed — especially if it is someone young — we try to go beyond the police report. Reporters will take a deep breath and make the calls necessary to find out what made this person special to their family, friends and the community.
Emotionally it is tough for reporters to write these stories, but the alternative would be an article giving only cold statistics, so we strive to do more.
Over the years we’ve held elected officials accountable, especially when we think they have skirted state open meetings laws.
We’ve done our best to describe complicated issues in terms the average citizen can understand — tax proposals, for example, or scientific discoveries at Richland’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the massive clean-up mission at the Hanford nuclear reservation.
When a reporter from a national television show portrays the Hanford site as “an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen” — and disparages the Tri-Cities in the process — we’ll defend the community in an editorial.
In our Opinion pages, we can promote new legislative ideas, and we can denounce bad ones.
We know we have our detractors. Every community newspaper has them.
People complain about how a news story was written, or the bent of our editorial board. They complain about the lack of coverage when they think we’ve missed something important. They point out mistakes and ridicule our efforts.
We hope most of our readers, however, see the value in what we do.
On our front page we proclaim to be “The Voice of the Mid-Columbia,” and that’s what we strive to be — the one voice for all three cities and counties combined, and the outlying communities, as well.
Our journalistic mission is to “find the truth and tell it, to cling to principles of freedom and defend them with fervor, to protect the interests of ordinary citizens, and to pursue our honorable role as watchdog in monitoring the affairs of government.”
These are our ideals, and we will continue to try and meet them — just like we have 70 years.