Celebrating five years of local news, Great Falls Greats 2022

This summer marks the fifth anniversary of The Electric.

Five years.

What started as an experiment, a hope that this town genuinely wanted local news, has now been around for five years.

I won’t lie, I’m extremely proud of this milestone.

Exhausted, stressed, never entirely sure if I’m moving the needle, but here I am, five years later, still doing local news and against all odds, making it.

To everyone who has helped make it happen, through advertising, subscriptions, notes of support and letting me vent, a deep, heartfelt thank you.

This year is also the third year of our Great Falls Greats contest.

We created it during the pandemic to fill a void, to celebrate our local businesses and the things that make Great Falls so uniquely what it is. Since then, others have created or brought back similar contests and we know it gets confusing, but we really love this one that isn’t affected by advertising or sponsorships and is driven entirely by you, the reader, the voter, the local.

Voting is now open for this year’s contest and runs through June 15.

You can vote here.

I’m counting this as a birthday for both The Electric and Great Falls Greats.

Lots or people tell me that birthdays aren’t special or get less important as you get older but I have always loved them.

Mine in particular. I did, after all, also invent Ginger Day for my birthday (mark your calendars for Aug. 20!)

It’s not that my birthday is about me but because it’s a day to take a minute and see how much good is in your life.

It’s a day to bring together people you love.

The Electric’s birthday feels a lot like my own since it’s such a huge part of who I am and who I’m becoming.

When I moved to Great Falls in 2013, I wasn’t sure it was a good fit to be honest.

I’d moved from DC and it was a hard transition.

But fun fact, I’d tried to move to Montana years earlier. Sometime in college Montana had gotten into my head and I interviewed with the Trib the summer after graduation while I was interning in Virginia. I also interviewed with the Livingston paper.

None of that worked out.

Cut to about five years later and I was the new reporter at the Trib.

My position was among those cut a few years later and for a minute I thought I was done with news and news was done with me.

I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I worked part time at a dog kennel, Old Navy and a chocolate shop.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to do the news.

And I saw holes in coverage, some that I used to fill and my nerdy, difficult self couldn’t help but want a better informed public.

So The Electric was born.

My dad always told me that if I was going to complain about something, I should always come to the table with ideas or solutions and be willing to work.

It was an experiment really.

I believed local news was important and that it could be done with a different model and that people would decide if it was worthwhile.

Thankfully, a lot of people shared my belief that local news is important, especially when done with honesty and integrity and luckily, as least some people were willing to pay for it.

That brings us to now.

Five years of local news. Of me winging it really, but of proving every day that local news matters to our community.

To all of you who have advertised, subscribed, sponsored this event, handed me a glass of wine when you caught me reading comments or after long public meetings, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You helped make this possible and I will always be grateful. This is your celebration every bit as much as it’s mine.

To mark the occasion, we’re having an anniversary party June 25 at The Newberry. That’s also when we’ll announce this year’s Great Falls Greats winners.

Tickets are available here and if you’re interested in buying a table/sponsoring the event, email jenn@theelectricgf.com.

The proceeds from the event, and the newly revamped advertising structure, go back into The Electric and this year’s goal is to increase revenues enough to hire one or two part-time reporters to improve and expand coverage, particularly in education and sports.

That’s what The Electric’s anniversary is to me. A room full of people who matter to me coming together to celebrate things bigger than ourselves. And our gift is knowing we’ve done something worth doing.