Media Monday: Kelsey Hamlin

Olivia Fuller / March 13, 2017

For this week’s Media Monday, we’d like you to meet Kelsey Hamlin, Seattle-based freelance journalist and contributor to outlets including the South Seattle Emerald and Seattle Weekly.

kelsey hamlin

  1. How did you find yourself as a journalist?

Honestly, I’m one of those rare cases where I’ve wanted to be a journalist since the 8th grade — though I had no idea what being a journalist even necessarily meant. I just knew I liked writing, and someone who became a life mentor for me suggested the career path. I’m also a person who just really wants to correct injustices, and one of the ways I can do that as a journalist is by writing about when they happen, and keeping the powers that be accountable. I don’t like saying I “give people a voice” through my job because that means they don’t have one, and that’s just BS. Journalism is a platform to project voices that already exist but aren’t being heard. Journalism doesn’t create voices or somehow give someone value by just writing about them and their story, they were already valuable. You’re just displaying their value for the world, which can certainly snowball into other impacts.

2. Which of your stories are you most proud of?

The ones that have the most impact: Broken Regimens at Real Change News definitely falls under that category. I’m also proud of, but continuously am drained by, the pieces I have done/am doing around the UW Red Square shooting. I’ve never received so much recognition, people reaching out to me, critiques, and gratitude as I have with these pieces across South Seattle Emerald, Seattle Weekly, and The Daily. I am still writing up multiple pieces on the matter. I can’t even express how much it has taught me, frustrated me, and given me drive.

3. What is your favorite thing about journalism?

The constant learning curve and introspective growth that’s demanded of you.

4. What is your interview style?

I know it’s a really bad thing to do, but I typically don’t do an overwhelming amount of research on someone before interviewing them, unless it’s an official and I haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on with them lately. If the latter was the case however, I’d rather have another journalist who has more contextual information do the story than me. For officials, I want to talk to them about matters that I already know things about so I can be able to detect when a fib is being told or they’re avoiding certain topics. When talking to everyday people, however, I’m very adaptive in my interview style. I like things to happen organically because it allows the story to take its true form by those it directly involves rather than being dictated by some predetermined thought I have. The best stories I’ve done opened doors, topics, concerns that I had no idea even existed before interviews. When those doors open, I find I have to jump through them and allow myself to let go of the reigns.

5. What do you look for in a story?

I look for impact. I look for moments where narratives of a single story don’t line up, which can happen in communities and police, or jails and mental health, etc. I look for moments where policies aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, where predicted numbers actually become real people. I look for moments of conflict that tend to represent larger systemic issues such that one person’s story can be at least decently emblematic to what others are facing.

6. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?

I look up to our drive. Even for journalists I don’t necessarily like, I know how much we all go through to do what we do. We spend sleepless nights looking up stats and data and research. We relentlessly do our best to pursue the truth — well, those of us who don’t work at a place like Breitbart. We write stories over and over until we feel it actually does the justice of what we’ve gathered. We walk for miles during protests, get confronted by police, stand next to gunshots, get yelled at, get hung up on, you name it. But we still push forward. That being said, the journalism industry has a lot to recognize and improve on in terms of how we can handle our mental health and stress levels. We often work so hard that we tend to push our own very real emotions and bodies aside.

7. What is your favorite news outlet?

Oh man. I seriously read from so many different publications. But if we’re focusing on news specifically, I guess I’d say Washington Post? Even then, I’m clearly not sure. I just really like their ability to gather data and present it in really great interactive graphics while remaining unafraid to still tell a whole comprehensive story with passion. But that also takes a larger newsroom, which isn’t a reality for the majority of us anymore — this also plays into how much we work and our mental health, by the way.

8. Fill in the blank:

  • If I am not reporting, I am…working on college stuff.
  • If I could interview anyone, it would be…the lady down the street who never talks to anyone. Screw celebrities.
  • My favorite thing about Seattle is…the people, and subsequently their range of differences and cultures.

9. What is your guilty pleasure?

I find the term ‘guilty pleasure’ weird. I like the things I like, and nobody’s going to have the ability or power to shame me for liking them. That being said, I also never have an answer to this question. I like art, I like numerous silly and dumb and really intriguing TV shows, movies, and anime. I like make-up but not always; I get cramps sometimes, and I only ever crave apples or chocolate.