Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reporters For Hire

Former Seattle Post-Intelligencer cops reporter Hector Castro has posted an interesting article on Seattle PostGlobe about Reinventing Yourself In A Changing Economy He writes about trying to land a job as a cop. First rejection? Tacoma police, even though he passed their physical. Definitely their loss and here's why.
Hector, a former collegue of mine, is not only a graceful writer -- but a great guy. Any police department would be lucky to nab him. He's ethical, sensitive, hardworking, compassionate, calm under pressure and smart. And believe me, that can't be said for every cop I've dealt with over the years.
Hector's not alone in trying to remake himself in the post-P-I world. Unemployed reporters and editors are finding out that potential employers come in two flavors: those who understand what great skills journalists have and those who don't.
Here's my pitch on behalf of all of us: If you want smart, productive people who can go from zero to 100 on any topic, hire a journalist. If you want great writers who can turn the dullest facts into sparkling copy, hire a reporter. If you want researchers who can track down anything or anyone, we are ready-made. 
And the icing on the cake: making a difference is what motivates us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Good Work, Tough Topic

Congrats to the newspaper sold on Seattle street corners by homeless folks, Real Change News, for winning a national Society of Professional Journalists Award for feature writing. It's for a story called "The Man Who Stood On The Bridge" about a sex offender who committed suicide by jumping off the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. The author, Rosette Royale, writes an unblinking account of what led Bret Hugh Winch to that desperate act.

And here's Rosette on Youtube talking about his work at Real Change:
(Photo: by Matt Brown)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lives Lost

The headline in the Seattle Times April 14th was pure horror: "Police say mother, 14, smothered infant because she was scared." The sort of headline that brings tears to your eyes.
Not that long ago, I might have been assigned the grim task of calling Federal Way police to find out what happened. It would have been my job to try to track down those who know the girl.
 I've written many versions of that same story over the years. Some things are always the same: the heartbreak, the grief over a tiny life lost, the harsh end to a girl's onetime dreams. Readers reacting with shock, outrage, ignorance. Asking, how this could happen? In the age of Oprah when advice about everything from parenting to sex is just a click away?
But every tragedy has its own twists as well. This time the "father" is a 20-year-old man who has been charged with child rape of the teen. Prosecutors allege he was having sex with the eight-grader for months with mom's knowledge. As the mother of a young teen, I find that hard to comprehend. 
And now the girl sits in King County juvenile detention accused of killing her child. Her unnamed newborn is surely a victim. But so is the girl whose fear and pain erased all reason. Whose panic severed any compassion for the life she bore. Whose own innocence had been bartered away long before if what prosecutors say is true.
My heart aches for two lives lost.