By Janette Turner
“I went into journalism to save the world,” said award-winning publisher Teresa Wippel, Monday’s speaker at EPIC Group in the Edmonds Library. “I wanted to be (Bob) Woodward and (Carl) Bernstein.”
While Wippel hasn’t yet uncovered new Pentagon Papers as publisher of three local news sites, she has presided over several investigation stories, including one on Westgate power outages resulting from Seattle City Light aging equipment. Larry Vogel, the My Edmonds News reporter for that story, was in today’s audience, along with columnist Dave Gross.
Investigations are costly, said Wippel, who noted the traditional advertising model for newspapers was no longer effective. “We know the old model of journalism isn’t working, but people are still looking for information.” Citing a forthcoming book, “The End of Big,” by Nicco Mele, Wippel predicts news sites will have to take on multiple revenue streams, such as NPR-like pledge drives, while cultivating columnists who develop their own followings. With pared-down news rooms, even fact checking is changing. “The readers and commentators are your fact checkers,” said Wippel, who welcomes “the feedback, the comments, and the corrections” that improve stories on her sites.
“My motto is an online gathering place for neighbors and friends,” said Wippel, who encouraged the writers at today’s meeting to pitch column ideas to her. One idea, “A Dachschund A Day,” by Kizzie Jones, received endorsement from the group. Perhaps Wippel will expand her gathering place to include “dachshunds.”