For this week’s Media Monday, we’d like you to meet Ken Robinson, managing editor and associate publisher of Robinson Newspapers, which includes the West Seattle Herald, Ballard News-Tribune and The Highline Times. For 60 years, Robinson Newspapers published five newspapers between Federal Way and Ballard. In 1975, they owned the largest cold-set web offset press west of the Mississippi and ran the largest mailing company in the state at the same time, with a combined staff of 400. Ken has an extensive career in journalism, even including a role as editor of the American Newspaper in Berlin, Germany when he was 23 years old.
- How did you find yourself as managing editor and associate publisher of Robinson Newspapers?
I marched right into the Publisher’s office and said “Dad, how about making me managing editor and associate publisher?” He said “Over my dead body,” Really. He said that. When he died two years ago, I just appointed myself.
- Which of your stories are you most proud of?
This is such a broad question that I don’t know where to begin except to say stories that help someone solve a problem, made them feel special or noticed for something good and stories that brought about a benefit to the community, e.g. a new library was built, a light was put in at a busy intersection, someone was recognized for their volunteer work, raising money for a food bank.
- What is your favorite thing about your job?
Writing well, telling a story well, is my favorite part of the job. After that, making people laugh.
- What is your interview style?
My interview style is very direct. I think of questions I want to ask in advance, then let the interview play out.
- What do you look for in a story?
I look for a gem of interest in a story that reveals character, a truth or point to an idea that might inspire.
- What is your day like at your job?
My day now is a series of emails, phone calls and reading other things for story ideas. Years ago, at a Take Your Child to Work Day, my son told his mother when he got home that “Dad talks on the phone, then he goes to lunch.”
- Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
I look for journalism that has guts, is not afraid to ask hard questions and in that realm, it can be found in the Seattle Times, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Slate and others.
- What is your favorite news outlet?
The New York Times is my favorites news outlet.
- Fill in the blank:
- If I am not reporting, I am…reading other reporting. Or napping.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be…I would love to interview Barack Obama.
- My favorite thing about Seattle is…its natural beauty and proximity to wilderness, Puget Sound and environs.
- What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is a good cigar and a glass of good red wine, sharing company with bright people (who can tolerate the smoke).