Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 17, 2015

The Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism Award Dinner

Several local media people gathered at the Black Cat for the 2nd annual Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award dinner. Last year, they gave it to Wendy Harris, a dedicated researcher and passionate public advocate. This year, they gave it to a goofy blogger with a fondness for bowties and mustache jokes.

Below all these pictures is my acceptance speech. Strangely, for all the shameless self-promotion I do, praise makes me mildly uncomfortable so I’ve buried this post between two big ones (my Doug Ericksen analysis should be up tomorrow).

Here are a few pictures of the event:

John Servais

Political Junkie-20

Doug Starcher looks on

Political Junkie-16

Political Junkie-38

Political Junkie-17Political Junkie-3Political Junkie-32

Here’s my acceptance speech:

Thank you all – if I look nervous and sweaty its just my disguise, as a blogger, I am contractually required to be uncomfortable in all public settings.

Thank you all for coming and for your kind words. This is such an honor. As the line between traditional journalism, advocacy and public relations disintegrates before our very eyes, it is fantastic to see so many people coming together to fill that gap. Writing my blog has been an incredible journey and as a result, there are a few people who I would like to thank.

I would like to thank John Servais, who took a snarky youngster and gave him an opportunity to flourish – and even better, pushed me out of the nest when the time was right. I know that if I can offend half as many people as John has over the years, I’m doing it right

I would like to thank my three favorite Republicans: Jason Overstreet, Doug Ericksen and Pete Kremen. Without them, I’d have to actually work for some material.

Thank you Bellingham Herald, for continuing to unintentionally encourage people to read my blog. While poking fun at the Herald can be a full-time job, I sincerely hope that that they will be able to sustain a full-time reporter in the next couple of years.

Thank you to Wayne Farber and the rest of the conservatives that comment on my blog endlessly – you make my typing errors look passable.

Thank you to my father, who always told me that if I can write, I can make a living. He also said, for the love of god, don’t go into politics so, we’ll split that one fifty/fifty.

Thank you to my wife Bryna, who puts up with my neurotic obsessions with grace and class. When I’m jumping up and down because a city council person, say, took a bathroom selfie, she is always there to say, “Uh huh, go get ’em, sweetie.”

Finally, I’d like to thank the committee. Paul was such an inspiration – I remember sitting in John’s backyard listing to his war stories of spineless weasels, jackbooted thugs and crooked politicians. To receive this award, in his name, is such an honor. His tireless and uncompromising voice rings true today.

Paul saw the need for citizen journalists capable of putting news in the proper context. From his report on the WTO, “Future protests will be even more information intensive . . . because the ultimate prize in a conflict is understanding, not opinion, it is the quality of information, not the quantity, which determines the final outcome.”

He was absolutely right. In our digital world, it is so easy to create content. Right now, Bryna is gathering digital content at 4MB’s a click. It is easier than ever to root through public records or find out about misbehaving public officials – now to put them in the proper context and articulate that in an engaging way – that is the next challenge and I’m so glad that I’m not doing it alone.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. There are more Riley’s out there. More people like myself who want to get involved, they just need a chance. The next wave of communicators are out there, willing to work hard for very little, wanting to dig out the stories that matter in their community. They just need you.

Our work is ongoing. There will always be the next election, the next boondoogle, the next Cherry Point and often we will feel completely outmatched – without the time, the money or the energy to go on. I want you to think back on this moment, where we came together as a community and decided to keep fighting for truth, for civil justice and a transparent government. There is no stronger force in this world than the power of people coming together to tackle problems bigger than themselves.

I’m just happy to be part of that community.

Thank you, everyone.



  1. Riley,
    Well-earned. Thanks for your good work.
    Abe Jacobson

  2. I was out of town and missed the event. I do commend you and Wendy as worthy recipients and for very different reasons. My admiration is extended to you both. We are a better community for both of your tireless work. One day I would like to see both of you as electeds. Kind regards.

    • I would be honored to serve in President Wendy Harris’ administration. 🙂 Thank you Stan.

  3. Congratulations, Riley! Well-deserved.

  4. Stan, you were missed. And I agree with your post, particularly the last two sentences.

  5. It takes intelligence and dedication to get these stories out to the public, and we commend you for it!

  6. Congratulations Riley and Stan speaks my mind. There is still plenty left…

  7. Run, Riley, Run

  8. “if I look nervous and sweaty its” because ISIS is in Whatcom County.

    “While poking fun at the Herald can be a full-time job, I sincerely hope that that they will be able to sustain a full-time reporter in the next couple of years”-I will talk to Julie about a job offer for you.

    “Thank you to Wayne Farber and the rest of the conservatives that comment on my blog endlessly – you make my typing errors look passable”-your “typing errors” aren’t the real problem.

    “There are more Riley’s out there”-God Help Us!

    “often we will feel completely outmatched”-realizing that is the first step to good mental health.

    Riley, all kidding aside, congratulations on winning the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award (even though there was no one else in the running). put my hat in the ring for the 3rd annual award and invite me to the dinner next time. I like the Chat Noir.

  9. Riley:

    Live from Palm Desert California CONGRATULTIONS!!!!! You deserve it and then some. Back to the pool!!!!

  10. Congrats! Thanks for keeping us in the loop through this blog and NWCitizen.

  11. Congratulations, Riley! It is wonderful how you provide an alternative to the Bellingham Herald for political news.

  12. Congratulations Riley
    From the minute you were born we knew you were exceptional.
    Thad and Stacey

    • Would you say that about America too?

      • Really, Wayne?

      • Would you Riley?

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