What do you want to read?
I interview myself
This is an interview I conducted with myself.
I: You get your name in the paper all the time. What's with that?
Me: I' the editor…what sort of question is that?
I: Nobody seems to know anything about you. Only your name.
I: people what to know who is editing their paper.
Me I am
I. Right. But who are you?
Me: Oh. Okay. Where Should I start?
I: (sigh) Where were you born?
Me: Seattle, a new neighborhood just east the airport.
I: I would appreciate it if you sped this up a little.
Me: Great: Went to Highline High in Burien, then Edison Tech, then Highline College, then Olympic College, then Seattle U, then the Goethe Institute in Berlin, then UW. Gasp!
I: What was your first job?
Me. I was an indentured servant to my father at the White Center News. I was Printer's Devil in the '50's, melting lead for the Linotype machines.
I: Boring…go on.
Me: I got drafted in 1966, was deferred because I had a hernia, then decided to enlist. I was trained as a journalist in the Army and was sent to Germany. I was a reporter in Frankfurt on the 3rd Armored Division paper, the Spearhead, then was hired to edit the Berlin Observer. I was there about 18 months.
I: Sounds like great duty.
Me: I mustered out and went to school at the Goethe Institut to polish my German language skills.
I: Gut for you.
Me: Ja. Danke.
I: Then what?
Me: Came home (with a baby).
I: I mean, for work.
Me: I stormed into the office of the Publisher of the White Center News and said," Dad, I need a job."
I: Naturally, you were hired?
I: What did you do?
Me: General assignment reporter, ad sales, janitorial work, and of course, my paper route. I quickly rose in the organization.
I: So, you've done it all, eh?
Me: I'm not one to brag, but ja wohl, mein Herr!
I: How long have your nose been to the grindstone?
Me: Not that long. It's been a great career. 44 years.
I: Why don't you retire?
Me: I can't. My dad is 93 and still writes a weekly column!
I: So what is going on with the Westside Weekly?
Me: Thanks. Since 1952, we have been publishing community newspapers in Ballard, West Seattle, White Center , Burien, Normandy Park and Federal Way. This has been a wonderful way to work for all those years, noticing the lives of the people who make up our communities. Working at a community newspaper is like having hold of the keys to every door in town.
I: Sounds right.
Me: We used to print honor rolls, all the sports scores, things about people who visited friends from another town, club notices and what we used to call "Ham Dinner" articles. We can't do that any longer because it just costs too much to gather and reproduce all that information.
I: What can you do?
Me: We consolidated three editions of the paper into one, called The Westside Weekly Newspaper. But kept the websites for each community separate.
I: What was the logic there?
Me: People's lives do not stop at our circulation boundaries .Think of an anthill. People drive to Burien from Des moines to go to a good restaurant. People drive from West Seattle to go to Fred Meyer in Burien. People drive from Ballard to check out a car in Burien.
I:So, what you have come up with is a sort of regional weekly newspaper.
Me: Yes. Correct.
I: How many pages will it be?
Me: Depends on the ad count. More ads, more pages. Tell your friends.
I: How crass!
Me: People are out to get me!
I: Yeah. Typical Highline Pirate.
Me: What we are working toward is a new kind of community paper. A paper which allows for a lot more voices. One change we made what asking qualified, talented people to write and take pictures for the papers in each community. Before, we traditionally put the burden for all reporting on one or two individuals. Most of us are not good at everything and that applies to reporters, too. We tend to be generalists.
Me: And we have begun employing individuals with specific talent--writing about music, taking photos, feature writing--to give the paper a more textured feel. Instead of chasing sirens, our interest lies looking past the lights to see what is really going on. So, our readers should expect to see some changes and differences in what they might once may have thought about the community newspaper.
I: You, sir, are an odd duck.
Me: So are you!
I: You seem like a guy who is nimble with a metaphor. How would you characterize these changes?
Me: I'm not falling for that. Let me ask you a question. Are you interested in what people think about what they are interested in seeing in a loca paper?
I: Do you mean 'a regional paper"
Me: Yeah. That.
I: I think you should ask people to send theirs thought about it to you. They should answer a simple question: "What do you want to read about?"