The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Sentinel asks for a seat in the White House press room


The Sentinel is on the White House press release email list, and that predates the Trump administration. We’ve been getting press releases from federal agencies from some time, and we receive invitations to phone press conferences in the nation’s capital. Yes, little ol’ Goldendale Sentinel, nestled in the foothills of the Simcoe Mountains in southcentral Washington State, has the attention of media moguls in the federal government. The Sentinel received an email press notice from the White House just yesterday, in regard to President Trump’s then-impending Supreme Court nomination.

We don’t accept every invitation from D.C. Not everything that comes from there is of paramount relevance to the everyday lives of Klickitat County residents—the people who are and will always be our primary focus and concern. But some news from the capital is significant for the county, and we will take part in those.

The Sentinel has also made news in larger media circles of late. Our recent editorial about asking a key four-word question (“How do you know?”) to vet the truth behind assumptions earned this paper a mention and a link on the American Press Institute’s web site, under a heading called “This Week in Fact-Checking.” Apparently fact-checking is a wild new fad, right up there with cow tipping but much more difficult.

Understand we’re not out for fame here. We don’t set out to make a name for ourselves. We set out to make a name for excellence, to show that small-town journalism can rank with the best of newspapers anywhere, irrespective of size. If that prompts greater visibility, that’s fine, but that’s a by-product of a more central goal.

In keeping with this vision, The Sentinel Monday made a formal request to the White House press office. We read that the office was considering adding four Skype seats, to accommodate farther-flung media. So our proposal to the White House was to allow The Sentinel to use one of those seats, at least for a time. We suggested those four seats rotate among smaller media around the country. And we’d like to kick that plan off.

Will the White House accept the idea? Why wouldn’t they? There’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain. It’s a great, grass-rootsy idea. Just to be sure the suggestion doesn’t get lost in the White House communications pipeline, we’ve asked for high-level help in getting the idea in front of the White House press secretary. It’s just crazy enough to work.

If we do get a White House seat, be assured we will turn to our readers for thoughts on issues to ask about. Be assured, too, that our process will follow prescribed protocol—this editor has worked in journalism in Washington, D.C., and been a guest at the White House, not that I could find my way to a restroom there now. We know how big-league protocol works, and we will honor it. That means please don’t ask us to ask questions that aren’t properly vetted (despite the use of the term “alternative facts” that has emerged from the current administration). Don’t ask us to pose queries with a clear bent to them, one way or another. Keep it courteous.

But we’re ahead of ourselves here. First let’s get the seat. Like the spirit of Klickitat County, we’re daring to dream and daring big.


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