Category Archives: Modern Media

Speaking of South Kitsap: That’s All She Wrote

South Kitsap, we’ve had this blog to ourselves since February 13, 2007. We’ve been through a lot: entertaining events, South Kitsap businesses, small town politics, and some just plain weird stuff. Now, three months and three years later, it’s time to let the rest of Kitsap’s communities in on the fun.

As I mentioned some weeks ago, we — as in reporters Steve Gardner, Brynn Grimley and I — decided it might be best to pool our blogging efforts. Since we cover Kitsap communities (minus Bainbridge Island, which is capably reported and blogged on by freelance reporter Tristan Baurick), we thought we could work together on a blog that conveys the flavor of Kitsap’s diverse and endlessly entertaining pockets of population. Since then, we’ve heard about Bremerton’s hens, Trader Joe’s (Kitsap’s never ending fantasy) and the latest news from Port Orchard. And more news from Port Orchard. I’m surprised Gardner didn’t put us on notice last week, whew!

If you hate good-byes, think of it as a migration.

Besides, you can access archives of this blog on, just like the good old Bremerton Beat, that keeps on getting hits even though its been sent to the big archive in the sky.

Our new blog is Peninsular Thinking (we will be diligent to avoid fat fingers when typing it for obvious reasons, promise).

After much thinking and a lot of constructive help from readers, we settled on a name that wasn’t even on the list of considerations yet seemed to convey the right tone of what we’re about here. Can we have fun? Heck, yeah! Can we be serious. If needs be. Do we want to stimulate conversation among all the good people of the Kitsap Peninsula? Above all.

Look, when I started this blog, I barely knew what a blog was. Since that day, the whole media equation has been erased and rewritten … multiple times. What I love about how things have evolved is that being a reporter is no longer about simply delivering the news. It’s not a one-way stream. It’s an ongoing, sometimes messy conversation in which we inform each other.

Even if I haven’t met you in person, I feel that I know those of you who post regularly. Thanks for your thoughts and opinions. We’re all better for it … except you trolls (and you know who you are).

So let’s step on over to the new blog and keep the conversation going. We’re trying to figure out a way to help you recognize when a post pertains to South Kitsap, say, if you’re particularly interested in South Kitsap. One brilliant idea I had was to … put “South Kitsap” (or “Bremerton” or “Poulsbo” if you swing that way) in the title. But really, all of it is going to be so edifying, you won’t want to miss a thing.

So stay tuned, stay in touch, stay Kitsap.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter

Video: Feb. 9 Meeting of Port Orchard City Council and Other City News

Find a video of the meeting on the City of Port Orchard’s Web site or on the Kitsap Sun.

The city council will hold a work study tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 219 Prospect St.

Don’t forget the council’s retreat 9 a.m. to noon Friday, also at City Hall.

The council’s public property committee met Monday with representatives from the Master Gardeners and Port Orchard Rotary about setting up pea patch gardens in one of the city’s parks. I believe they’re looking at the Dwight Street Park.

Mayor Lary Coppola recently recorded his first video “Mayor’s Report.” According to Coppola’s Facebook page, the video will be posted on the City’s Web site,, hopefully before the end of the day today.

Find more videos relating to life in South Kitsap here, on the Kitsap Sun.

The Truth About Being a Journalist

Yesterday, I spent the morning at Marcus Whitman Junior High School‘s annual career fair. The gym was full of folks representing a range of professions: machinists, attorneys, animal control workers, a member of the county coroner’s staff, restaurant owners, medical personnel. It was our job to give the students a glimpse into the future and imagine themselves in our shoes.

Seeing them streaming into the gym reminded me what it was like to be in their shoes, drifting in that limbo stage between childhood and adulthood, trying to fit in while standing out. A few had that deer-in-the-headlights stare. Like, “Oh, man, I’m actually going to have to get a job someday.” Some knew exactly what they wanted to do … to the point they’d crossed all other possibilities off the list. The vast majority of them, however, were open-minded, politely but genuinely interested in prospect of being a journalist, at least for a minute or two.

I thought, what do I tell them about our industry, which has seen thousands of journalists laid off and hundreds of publications shuttered? Should I encourage these young people to invest their money, time and energy training for a career that may not exist as we know it by the time they’re out of school? It wouldn’t quite have been in the spirit of things to say, “Run!” So I told them the truth about journalism, at least as see it from my desk at the Kitsap Sun, a daily newspaper/Web site, published in Bremerton, Wash., circa 2010.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, and how I answered them.

Where do you get your story ideas?
We monitor state and local government Web sites and other Web sites for developments in and around Kitsap County. We stay in contact with sources with whom we’ve established relationships and use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what’s going on. We receive e-mails and phones calls from readers and others about news or human interest stories. And sometimes, we get ideas that strike our fancy, like the story I wrote on the Mattress Ranch guy.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Writing the first sentence of any story.

What educational classes do I need to take to become a writer?
Don’t wait to complete your degree to start writing. Sign up for the high school newspaper or year book. Take journalism, photography and videography classes (South Kitsap High School has a great video production program). Write as often as you can, and be open to constructive criticism. Pick a topic that interests you and start a blog.

How successful are students who major in journalism at getting a job?
This wasn’t a frequently asked question, but I thought it was a great question. I couldn’t speak to current statistics, but I can say that the job market for journalists remains tight. Journalists today are required to wear many hats, so successful applicants will be ready to demonstrate versatility and innovation. Here at the Kitsap Sun, we reporters now not only write stories, but shoot videos and, in a pinch, take simple photographs.

With migration to the Internet, reporting the news is shifting from a series of static episodes to a fluid, quickly shifting landscape of information. News Web sites not only report news, sports, features and opinion pieces (as in the print paper), they serve as an online community forum. Readers can comment on stories and blogs, submit their own pictures and videos, and write their own blogs. In that was were are becoming a virtual community.

The Kitsap Sun will continue to publish the print edition of the paper. At the same time, our Web site is evolving rapidly. Both serve different, valid purposes. By the time these Marcus Whitman students graduate from college, it’s likely there will be jobs that don’t even exist (at least as separate jobs) right now. The titles “data base wrangler,” and “news cartographer” come to mind, for example.

To the student in the Twilight T-shirt who said she likes to write fantasy stories I said:
Hold that thought, keep writing and send your stories out to fiction publications as often as possible. At the same time, consider how you’ll earn a paycheck while waiting to become the next Stephenie Meyer.

To guy who wants to be a sports writer but wasn’t sure how he’d do it since he plays sports year ’round:
Cover the girls’ games.
I loved his reaction, at first, stunned silence, then a little ah-ha moment, then a slow sideways grin. They can be taught.

Is your job, like boring?
Yes, sometimes. Welcome to the real world.

Is your job stressful?
Yes, often. Welcome to the world of journalism.

Have you ever interviewed a celebrity?
I tried to tell them about Loretta Swit, aka “Hot-Lips Hoolahan,” who was in town a few years ago promoting her personal cosmetic line to a group of women. She gave me a mini-makeover in front of the group, but it didn’t take. The students were clueless about the significance of this story. They got the connection to M*A*S*H* after I primed their little neuron pumps, but they were unimpressed with Swit.

Debbie Macomber? Isn’t she that author lady? I think my mom reads her books.

Delilah? The South Kitsap resident and radio personality with millions of fans on the airwaves? No, never heard of her.

Seriously, next time Death Cab comes to town I’m on it. Just maybe they’ll know who Ben Gibbard is.

Do you like your job?
Yes, unequivocally. Stress turned inside out is excitement, and this job is frequently exciting. I’m not just talking about breaking news here, but also about how much fun it is not to know exactly what I’ll be doing each day when I walk in the door. Oh, sure, I have a plan, but often circumstances shift me to another track. We’re a small staff so I get to write news, features, Code 911 items and pretty much whatever comes along. I enjoy the variety, and I’m always amazed at how people allow me into their lives, often at deeply painful moments.

I also like the folks I work with, and I’m not just sucking up because I’m stuck with them. Over the past three years, it has sometimes seemed as if we were bailing out a leaky dingy while building the Titanic. We got this far though teamwork (and sometimes wacky outbursts of humor). Call me a terminal optimist, but I believe I’m not alone in saying things are looking up for the Kitsap Sun. It’s a work in progress. I can’t wait to see how it turns out, and I sure hope there will be someone to pick up where we leave off.

PO Council Video Now Up on Kitsap Sun Website

Find video coverage of the Port Orchard City Council’s Jan. 19 work study meeting, courtesy of the City of Port Orchard, at Scroll to “Videos” and find it under “recent.” Or watch it here:

Note: I get a message that says “no image” on the screen. If you see this, just click play. The video works fine. Let me know if you have any glitches.

Almost Live From Port Orchard, It’s the City Council in Action

After some initial technical difficulties, the City of Port Orchard has successfully posted a Webcast of its Jan. 19 work study meeting. The meeting was so long they had to make two video postings. It was the “Gone With the Wind” of council meetings. While it’s not going to win any Oscars, the video is clear, the sound good, for the most part.

By my observation, some council members with quieter voices (John Clauson, I’m talking about you) need to speak up and direct their comments at the microphones. Lapel mics would be nice but probably aren’t necessary. Also speakers need to be reminded to speak directly into the microphone.

One of the items on the council’s agenda was a discussion of whether to post meeting coverage to local media Web sites as well. The council heartily concurred this is a good idea. Unfortunately, due to some initial technical difficulties, the Kitsap Sun’s Web site isn’t talking to the City of Port Orchard’s Web site. Our trusty Web editor Angela Dice is working on the problem and hopefully will have it resolved by next week’s city council meeting.

I’d be interested to hear from those of you who tuned into the video on the City’s Web site. How did it work for you?

And not to dismiss the people who formerly relied on BKAT, public access cable television broadcasts. At least one of you said that, while you have a computer, it is an older model and not capable of accessing the video. Did you find that to be true? If so will you request a CD copy of the meeting?

To find the videos, go to the City of Port Orchard’s homepage. Below the calendar (on the left), click on “Upcoming Meetings.” See Current Online Videos; click on the correct date.

Minus BKAT, PO Has Glitch in Video Meeting Coverage

Tuesday’s meeting of the Port Orchard City Council is the first since the council voted in December to do away with its BKAT broadcasts and to post videos of the meetings on the city’s Web site instead. Unfortunately, there was a glitch, and no audio of the meeting came through.

Mayor Lary Coppola has accepted responsibility and explains in a letter below where things went awry. Instead of a video, draft minutes of the meeting have been posted on the Web site. Here is a copy your viewing pleasure.

Port Orchard City Council Meeting, Jan. 12, 2010, draft minutes: POCC_011210

The city had a contract with BKAT since 2006, but decided to ditch cable in part to save money, in part to try and reach a wider audience and offer a more convenient form of access. Coppola and council members who favored the switch said most people now have Internet service adequate to view meetings on the city’s Web site. Viewing online would allow people to skip through the the parts of the meeting in which they were most interested and to view meetings at whatever time they choose. The possibility of having both forms of broadcast is not off the table, and the council may resurrect discussion of BKAT and how to fund it. Port Orchard has been paying a reduced rate and BKAT was hoping to bring the city’s fees in line for comparable service.

Here’s the mayor’s letter sent to the Port Orchard Independent and forwarded to me by Councilman Fred Chang.

“From: Lary Coppola
Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 4:18 PM
To: Charlie Bermant
Cc: Patricia J. Kirkpatrick
Subject: RE: BKAT

First, I want to apologize to the citizens of our City for the problem, and accept full responsibility for it. A draft copy of the meeting minutes will be posted on the City’s Web site, along with the video.

BKAT had a responsibility to provide training for our staff as part of its contract, and we had done a run through on December 22, prior to BKAT removing its equipment to make sure there were no glitches and everything worked correctly. It was after that, when BKAT removed its equipment, and hooked up ours as was agreed. apparently an audio cable was left unplugged. It wasn’t immediately obvious that this had occurred, and since the run through went perfectly, we assumed everything was ready to go – just as BKAT assured us it was.

We don’t believe this was an intentional act, and if you’ve seen the amount of wiring involved in the broadcast setup, you can see how easily something like this could happen. Rest assured that everyone involved in this project knows for a fact it won’t happen again.

Lary Coppola, Mayor
City of Port Orchard
216 Prospect Street
Port Orchard, WA 98366
(360) 876-7025 – Direct Line”

Here’s One Government Official Leading the Charge on Social Networking

The hitch is, he’s got a way bigger budget than Bud Harris, Kitsap County’s director of information technology, who recently reaffirmed his message of caution on mixing social networking with government.

Bill Schrier, chief technology officer for the City of Seattle, on the other hand, openly embraces new media. Schrier, who writes the Chief Seattle Geek blog, in a recent entry discussed the concept of an “open city,” in which information is shared via the Internet, now accessible 24/7 via laptop and desktop computers, as well as Blackberries, iPhones, cell phones etc.

Schrier writes:

“The theme is consistent: city governments, by opening their information, their data, their engagement processes, can generate a wealth of new ideas and understandings which make them more efficient and effective, and more robust, exciting places, with improved quality of life.

The old model, used for 250 years or more, is for a City is to collect as much data as possible about problems, its responses, services it provides and the general city environment. Then the typical city hires analysts or consultants – experts, if you will – to pore over the data and discern patterns. These experts then make recommendations for policy, action or changes.”

Schrier writes of applications that allow for public discussion of ideas and ranking of concepts through a “public engagement portal.” His department uses a model, Ideas for Seattle, that allows for some limited input online from people, and he hopes to see that concept expanded. Other governments are working on similar programs.

Pursuing this technology will provide a better community process than what Schrier calls “death-by-PowerPoint presentations and long lines of people trooping up to the microphone to give their 2 minute NIMBY mini-speeches,” he said.

Fourteen departments within the city, including police and fire, have blogs, and the city uses Twitter to communicate in “almost real time” about traffic tie ups and such. There’s also, for example, an arts blog to reach a “targeted community.”

The blogs link together on a single page. The city’s policy on social networking assures uniformity in how social media are employed and makes sure its use actually meets constituents’ needs, Schrier said. Public comments on blogs is limited, however. If a department wants to allow comments, they have to be moderated and approved before they’re put up. People who want to make comments can fill out a form on the Web site.

In today’s story on, Harris said he’s not against social networking, but, given the county’s budget struggles and his department’s own full plate, he lacks the resources to develop policy and software to cover the county on both free speech and open records issues. In Kitsap County, the public already can comment via e-mail or sign up for listservs from given departments, said Harris.

In fairness to Harris and his department, Schrier is working with a much larger budget, $57 million, about 70 percent of Kitsap’s total 2010 budget, and he has 205 employees.

Mason County’s Public Records Woes a Cautionary Tale

A recent story in the Kitsap Sun covers two public records lawsuits filed against Mason County that resulted in $320,000 in penalties and court costs. In one of the suits, e-mails from the person requesting information were blocked as “spam,” sent to the county’s junk mailbox and eventually purged from the system.

Mason County’s public records woes suggest that Port Orchard’s inclination to err on the side of caution in its policy on e-mailed public records requests is justified. PO in September enacted an update to its public records ordinance, stating the city will no longer accept e-mail requests. The city clerk, who is the designated public records officer for the city, will still process requests by e-mail; the change in the ordinance was meant to cover the city in the event that one slipped through the cracks.

Since we’re back on the subject of Port Orchard’s public records ordinance, let me divert a minute to say Mayor Lary Coppola panned my story because he felt it unfairly portrayed the city as being uncooperative, furtive and resistant to public records requests. (You can see his comments at the bottom of the story.)

Port Orchard accepts requests by phone, mail, fax and in person, and many of their documents are available on the city’s Web site (as well as videos of city council meetings). So the issue to me is not one of transparency or good faith, both of which City Clerk Patti Kirkpatrick and her assistant, Brandy Rinearson, display in abundance.

That having been said, the point of the story still stands. By technically refusing to accept e-mail requests (even while processing them to the best of city staff’s ability) the city is placing itself in a position of legal liability, said Tim Ford, open government ombudsman for the state Attorney General’s office.

The AG’s office does not police jurisdictions’ compliance with public records laws. But individuals, companies or organizations could potentially sue Port Orchard creating a financial liability, even if the city were to prevail. (In Mason County’s case, the Washington Counties Risk Pool defended both lawsuits and will pay all but a $10,000 deductible per case.)

I called Tim Ford after my story ran to do a reality check. He sympathized with public records officials, especially in small jurisdictions, who often wear many hats.

“These are tough budget times,” said Ford. “It’s not easy for cities to hire a separate person for public records requests. So often they have the city clerk doing 100 different things.”

That scenario played against Mason County. The commissioner’s clerk whose e-mail system saw the plaintiff’s request as junk later said “she’d had no training” even though she was the designated public records officer. The attorney representing the county described the clerk as “someone very overly burdened in a county without enough resources.”

Ford applauded Port Orchard for its intention to address all forms of public records requests. That’s as it should be, he said. In his opinion, however, the no-email ordinance will not provide the city protection in the event an e-mail request falls through the cracks and if the person who made that request decides to file suit (see the case cited in my story). “If they have policy that restricts or prohibits e-mail requests, they have a lot of liability there, because you can’t treat requesters differently,” said Ford.

That conclusion was seconded in the Mason County story by Monty Cobb, Mason’s deputy prosecutor for civil matters, who said that “while written requests are preferred, nothing restricts the use of e-mail, the telephone, even ‘notes on the back of a napkin,’ he said.”

For the record, there were other factors in the Mason County suits besides the lost e-mail.

And a final point. Coppola, in his criticism of my story, brought up an e-mail exchange he and I had in connection with the story in which I had put the wrong address on an e-mail to him. I eventually got the right address and Coppola responded promptly, but his point was, what if that had been a public records request and I had wanted to make a stink about it. The answer, according to Ford, is that I wouldn’t have had a legal leg to stand on. While the law puts the heavy burden on public officials to provide public records, the burden is on the public to use proper addresses (e-mail and other wise).

Kitsap Sun Says “Bye” to Our Intern

Today we say good-bye to our intern, Angela Lu, a resident of Los Angeles who is heading back to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where she is a junior majoring in journalism You may remember I asked Angela to give her first impressions of Kitsap. She’ll now look back in retrospect and tell you what pearls of wisdom she has picked up here at the Kitsap Sun.

Kitsap Sun Intern Angela Lu

Angela says:

“After three months at the Kitsap Sun, I’ve learned what keywords will garner the largest number of comments, off-tangent argument, and jokes on this site.  Here it goes…

Washington state ferries, immigration — illegal and legal, Code 911 (meth addicts, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, crazy-random felons), SNOW!, porn tax, racial issues, same-sex parents, religion, school board meetings, the military, SKIA, levies, ferry tunnel, and any quirky story that a pun can be made out of.

(I hope this blog post shows up for every archive search with the above words.)

Maybe more than just hot-button issues, I’ve come to learn what Kitsapians (did I just make up a new term?) care about, what they have opinions about, and what they are passionate about.

Instead of just seeing Kitsap as a county on a map, these past few months I’ve been able to fill in what gives Kitsap color.  It’s the faces I see, the stories I hear.  It’s the Access bus drivers, the state patrol officers, the city council members, the veterans, the tribal members, the small business owners, the librarians, local heroes and just everyday people who call Kitsap home

Through covering stories on a variety of topics, I’ve been able to get a crash-course on what life is like here. By spending time here—talking to people and learning more about the area, I’ve started to care about the issues Kitsapians care about.  And in some sense, Kitsap has become like my own home.

So although I’m excited to go back home and back to school, I’m also sad to leave here.  What gives me comfort is that through the Web, I can still stay connected to Kitsap and check up every once in a while to see how it’s going.

In my eyes, the Web is a whole new dimension of charted and uncharted cyber-land.  It seems endless and daunting, but just remember that is your property.  It’s a place where the whole community can come together to chat, to discussion and to share your thoughts about things that hit close to home.

So treat it like your house.  Keep it clean, treat it with respect, and most importantly, don’t forget to use your head.

See you later, Kitsap.”

My thoughts:

On learning buzz words for Web hits … her family’s tuition dollars well spent.

On the term “Kitsapians,” if it hasn’t already been coined somewhere, I think it has the potential to stick.

Stay in touch, Angela. It’s nice to know we are all connected by the Web. And you know the old saying, once a Kitsapian … scarred for life.