Celebrating 10 Great Years Putting News at Your Fingertips
The sounds of the scanner hum under the clatter of silverware and the chatter of our household most of every day. My family tolerates my obsession even if they don’t quite understand it. Right now the warm smell of my husband’s birthday breakfast apple pie baking in the oven curls under my nose as I type and, I count back to realize 10 years ago today, I wrote my first post on Redheaded Blackbelt.
Two of the favorite parts of my life, my husband and my website, began on October 8.
The website began as a way for me to practice so I could write a novel and, instead, evolved into a career I love. When I first started, the words were mine alone and typed out for family and friends. Now, we have over 1.6 million page views a month and the Redheaded Blackbelt is a collection of freelance writers, photographers, and producers–from our newest Kelley Lincoln and Myles Cochrane to our longest members, Oliver Cory, who even runs the site in the morning on Sundays and the afternoon on Wednesdays, and Bobbi Wisby who is our computer wizard. Without these first two, we would never have survived.
Let me give you an idea how we work. A group of us, but mainly Bobby Kroeker, his partner Nena Huitt, and I listen to the scanner and alert each other through a Facebook chat to anything that might be important for us to cover. We’re not always on but, most days, one of us is listening most of the time between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. I want to mention that Bobby, Nena, and the rest don’t get paid for this. They are just eager to get the news out to the community.
In addition, readers contact us with information and photos about happenings they see or hear about. Then I start making calls and checking out websites to fill in the details. Mark McKenna, Oliver Cory, Stormy Taylor, or Bobby Kroeker might run out and chase down photos and information. (That can’t happen as often as I like because they get paid for this–a very small sum–and I can’t afford to do it too often.)
I also look for important events–say a meeting that needs to be covered and make sure one of the freelance folks can be there to take photos and gather information.
Meanwhile, in between stories I sell ads (I’m really bad at this—I wait for people to contact me as it literally makes me sick to my stomach to call them and ask if they would like to advertise), write invoices, pay bills, wade into the comment section, and number of other tasks I like a lot less than I do writing news.
Huge thanks to the folks who make this place work:
Bobbi Wisby–When I was in despair about how to update the site after I moved out on my own again in 2015, she held my hand through the process and makes sure our pages keep running now.
Oliver Cory–Oliver started helping me before he graduated from Journalism classes at HSU. He runs the site for me on Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings. An excellent photographer, he captures images that make meetings look interesting!
Bobby Kroeker-– a master of the scanner, he often feeds me information as I write down stories, and he whips out his phone as he races to the scene of breaking news to make videos as well as taking photos and gathering information.
Nena Huitt–Bobby’s partner, alerts us all to breaking news on the scanner. She beads beautiful Native art.
Stormy Taylor--Nena’s daughter, takes photos and asks questions, as well as alerts us to stories she sees as she is out and about. Here’s a piece that she helped make.
A few other articles are provided here and there by others.
Late in 2011, the Redheaded Blackbelt joined with the Lost Coast Outpost and then two years ago in the spring of 2015, I moved back out on my own and began publishing my own news site. With the help of you, our readers, and all these wonderful people above, as well as a few others, including some of my patient family members, we’ve been making sure that you know who is making news, what roads are closed, where fires are burning, and we do this when you need to know the information–as quickly as we can get it out to you.