In the newsroom, it’s a question as common as the discarded lead paragraph:
“What’s the angle?”
In Liberty Lake, the pitch is one most jaded editors would quickly dismiss as idyllic and improbable as they shuffled the idea off to acquaintances in the field of utopian fiction.
“Communities like that don’t exist anymore,” the editor might say. “People don’t build trails, parks and a city of their own. They don’t start a farmers market, a utility district, magnanimous service clubs and a free festival with concerts, movies and a regular staging of Shakespeare.”
As someone who has covered Liberty Lake since April 2002, I would have a retort for Mr. Cynical that might ring similar to Zag Nation’s response to Jimmy Kimmel when the talk show host speculated on the veracity of Gonzaga University during March Madness.
“Liberty Lake does exist.”
For a decade with the Spokane Valley News Herald, I had the privilege of chronicling the rise of Spokane County’s first new jurisdiction since Airway Heights became a city in 1955.
Long before Liberty Lake established its own police department, library and City Council, dynamic civic leaders like Jim Frank, Leslie Zilka, Tom Specht, Margaret Barnes, Ross Schneidmiller and Lud Kramer were pouring the foundation of a community that would become known for landmarks like Pavillion Park and a world-class network of trails that residents thought was so important they decided to tax themselves to build it.
Since 2012, I’ve had the good fortune to continue telling the story of Liberty Lake in The Splash, a publication founded by Shaun and Nathan Brown in 1999 as they astutely saw the escalating demand for a larger and more detailed quantity of local news that went beyond the daily paper’s limited coverage.
These days, the stories in Liberty Lake are more plentiful than ever. As one of Washington’s fastest growing communities, the area lends itself abundantly to the sort of engaging, personal journalism you probably won’t find on the Associated Press Wire Service but that is distinctive to experiences in the 99019 zip code.
These are the stories of your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends. They are stories that keep you in tune with a city, a school district, a police department, volunteer groups and more.
Former Liberty Lake Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Jenkins once told me that living in Liberty Lake was like being a resident of modern-day Mayberry. While the slogan never caught on, I saw his point. It does seem like the gold standard of communities and Chief Brian Asmus could likely pass for Andy Griffith on most days.
Still, like any community, Liberty Lake has its challenges. As one who learned the newspaper’s role as a watchdog years ago in Journalism School, I believe local publications like the Liberty Lake Gazette can shed light on those issues and be a sounding board for solutions.
On with the storytelling.