Sadly, my current editor at the Capitol Hill Times in Seattle just lost his job. He now joins an increasingly long line of good journalists in my hometown being shuffled into new professions by the current economic shakeup of the business. Besides a retrenching of the community newspapers, our second-largest daily shuts down this week. Not a good time to be a journalist looking for job.
I've been freelancing steadily for the CHT for longer than anyone left employed at the newspaper's owner Pacific Publishing would remember. Fact is, I remember when it was part of the Flaherty chain and a friend designed the logo that they adopted when they changed the name to Pacific.
Since 1990, I've had at least one article on a month in this neighborhood newspaper. I covered the arts that happened in Seattle's very funky Capitol Hill: fringe theater, international film festival, esoteric choirs (quite literally), cutting edge dance troupes, and a wonderful arts college called Cornish.
It was a great gig and I met literally hundreds of interesting people. A few were famous names, more were fabulously devoted to their art, and a couple were just strange. From the troupe who rehearsed a naked version of Macbeth for a year to the six-foot devotee of fishnet stockings and glam rock, I learned something about having a passion for the arts from all of them.
The funny thing is that I got the "job" (writing for love and a few meager dollars) during another economic downturn. I was working at a maritime magazine which managed to go gloriously bankrupt. Friends from that publication scattered through newspapers around the area, including a gig at the Capitol Hill Times. While my original contact at the Times left for another job, I just kept submitting articles. By the time Doug came along, I'd outlasted three other editors. Doug used to joke that I was something that editors inherited at CHT and I would outlast everyone else writing there.
But it looks like I may have outlasted the newspaper -- the terse announcement of layoffs on the website hints at even bigger changes to come.
When I started, I submitted articles on hard copy (can you imagine, printed out on paper for somebody else to type into a machine!). Then we went to submissions on floppy disk. From there, e-mail submissions meant I stopped going into the office every other week to pick up mail and drop off my disk. I missed the visits but loved the convenience of filing my story from wherever my computer was.
These times and technology have changed my newspaper gig. But the art keeps going on and I'm hoping to find a new home for the stories.