I was thinking of doing an April Fools post in which I announced that I had been hired by the Seattle Times as a political blogger and columnist. But every time I sat down to write it, it never came out funny.
The fact is, and as immodest as it may sound, there is no media outlet in Seattle that could profit more from my services than the Seattle Times. I would deliver the kind of edgy, funny, and provocative commentary younger audiences demand, while helping to combat the common perception of the Seattle Times as a paper hostile to our city’s urbanist and progressive values. I’d create a little havoc, sure—I mean, what kind of paper hires a columnist who is guaranteed to debunk their own editorials?—but those sort of intramurals make for a helluva good read. And given my tireless blogging and my decade of cultivating political sources, my blog would quickly become the most politically relevant feature in the paper since “Postman on Politics.”
And relevance is something the Seattle Times could use more of.
True story. The very last event I covered as an employee at The Stranger was a minimum wage forum held down the street at Seattle Central Community College. At one point, King County Council Member Larry Gossett quotes something from a Danny Westneat column, only to be met with blank stares from the couple hundred community college students in the room. “Danny Westneat… the Seattle Times?” Gossett prompts the crowd, raising his hand by example. “How many of you read Danny Westneat?”
Nobody raises their hand.
KC council member Larry Gossett at SCCC min wage forum: “How many of you read Danny Westneat?” Nobody raises their hands.
— David Goldstein (@GoldyHA) March 4, 2014
About ten minutes earlier, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant had cited something in The Stranger, and mentioned that “Goldy” was in the room. A lot of heads turned around looking to see which person was Goldy.
This isn’t meant as a knock against Danny. I like Danny. He’s a smart, coherent, and thoughtful writer (if a bit too conventional for my tastes). And had that forum been held in front of the Municipal League instead of a bunch of grungy kids, nearly every hand in the room would have been raised at the mention of Danny’s name. But most of them would’ve been familiar with my work too, if less sympathetic. Love me or hate me, that’s the sort of broad relevance I could bring to Seattle’s last remaining daily.
Look, I know I haven’t always been kind to publisher Frank Blethen. But this is business. And I’m convinced that bringing somebody like me on board as a brash counterweight to his paper’s staid status quoist zeitgeist would be good for business. Then again, if the Blethen family was motivated purely by business interests, they probably would’ve unloaded the paper more than a decade ago.
So here I am howling into the wind on my lonely blog, as Blethen watches his aging readership gradually die off. Not sure which one of us is the bigger April fool.