If you just moved here recently, believe it or not, this use to be a two newspaper town. I could once read the Seattle Times in the morning and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle PI) in the afternoon.
The Seattle PI once had more than 160 people in its newsroom working hard to find stories that would connect with the people of the Pacific Northwest. You may be familiar with the historic Seattle PI globe still in place off Elliott Avenue near Myrtle Edwards Park.
The PI was eventually purchased by the Hearst Corporation and with the latest round of cutbacks by the company, there are five writers and one photographer left to work under the iconic spinning neon globe.
This development makes our community a worse place to live.
I’m not a journalist. I’m a talk show host. But this job has introduced me to quite a few actual grizzled reporters, and they are the best of the best. I’m going to make some generalizations, but in my experience, they are accurate.
A true journalist is usually among the smartest people in the room, but they don’t flaunt it. They are insatiably curious about how things work and why they work that way. They have a perfect blend of skepticism and optimism. The belief that if they just keep at it, finding all the right facts can change things for the better.
A true journalist is dogged in the pursuit of the truth. And by truth I mean that they put in the hard work of digging through mountains of documents and getting in their car to track down the right person to talk to.
Then they have to charm that uncooperative person into giving them something that moves the story forward.
A true journalist fights for the little guy and loves to shine a light on hypocrisy and people that abuse their power.
A true journalist could make more money doing something else, but they love what they do. They usually have a dark sense of humor and love a strong cocktail after a frustrating day of sorting through piles of lies for a grain of truth.
They are the agents of change in a town. They make it more fair for everyone. True journalists shine a light where it needs to be shined.
The fact that the mighty Seattle PI has been reduced to six people who mostly reformat other news stories for the web makes me sad.
It’s clearly too late for the PI, but if you care at all about the place you live, then find a way to support a true journalist. It’s the best money you can spend.
You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.