For this week’s Meet the Media, we’d like you to meet Ben Sclair, owner, editor and publisher of The Suburban Times.
- How did you find yourself at the Suburban Times?
Not a typical path. I’ve been part of the media landscape since the day I was born (in 1970). My parents owned, operated or worked at a number of community newspapers in Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa before buying an aviation newspaper in Washington state two weeks after I was born in Oklahoma. From 1975-1980, my parents owned The Suburban Times. Twenty years – or so – after selling The Suburban Times to focus on the aviation marketplace, Dad started researching the idea of re-starting a community newspaper. Research complete, he plopped his binder of data on my desk and said, “You do it, I’m retired.” My hands were full running our aviation publication and I had no desire to launch another print publication. But that planted a seed. With an ever-expanding digital landscape, I launched The Suburban Times – online exclusively – on July 5, 2005.
2. Which of your news stories are you most proud of?
The Suburban Times exists as a community bulletin board. While I own and maintain the bulletin board, it is the community that writes and designs the “fliers” that populate the board. I’m particularly proud of the diverse range of contributors. A retired cop, a community activist, a prolific writer, a book author, school district and town/city public affairs officers, business operators and non-profit service clubs as well as a growing number of public relations firms are just some of those who contribute content to The Suburban Times.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job?
I never grow tired of hearing, “It is the first thing I read in the morning.”
4. What is your interview style?
I don’t interview… I just help keep the bulletin board clean, organized and full of appropriate and family-friendly information and announcements.
5. What do you look for in a story?
The Suburban Times has a simple acid test all content must pass. The content must be produced by someone in our coverage area or must be about someone or something in our coverage area (western Pierce County – east of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge through Tacoma and south to include Puyallup, Midland, Parkland/Spanaway, Lakewood, University Place, Fircrest, Steilacoom and DuPont). In the more than 12 years since my first post, we’ve had very few problems.
6. What is your day like at your job?
I’m still busy as publisher of General Aviation News. So I continually evolve the automation that drives a good amount of The Suburban Times’ content. Our Share a Story form allows contributors to easily submit content (including photos) for scheduling. An event submission form makes it easy for planners to add events to our Community Calendar. As I wind down my General Aviation News day, I open my The Suburban Times email and WordPress dashboard to massage and finesse the day’s content submissions.
7. Who do you most look up to in the news community?
The tireless investigative journalists and community columnists. Any time they can shed light on the failures, challenges – and successes – of government (at all levels) as well as businesses, organizations and people that make up our communities we all win. Sadly, I fear that too few people understand the importance of an independent and free press.
8. What is your favorite news outlet?
All community newspapers – print and digital – that still allow a community to have a voice.
9. Fill in the blank:
- If I am not working, I am…trying to disengage my mind enough to be present when I’m with my wife and three kids. A leisurely flight in a friend’s Piper J-3 Cub is also great diversion.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be… my Dad. I’m not a reporter, but I wish I had learned more from him before he died in 2011.
- My favorite thing about the Pacific Northwest is… the variety. From the damp Pacific Ocean coastal region, to the comparatively dry San Juan Islands, to the snow-capped mountains of the Olympics and Cascades to the rolling hills and farms/ranches of the inland empire, Washington has a truly unique variety of topography matched only by its citizens.
10. What is your guilty pleasure?
I have no guilt when enjoying a weekly Wednesday breakfast with my wife. We rotate among a half-dozen, or so, area diners to discuss the week, what’s coming up, what we need to work on, the Seahawks, the kids, each other… or nothing. We started our weekly breakfast date a couple years ago and I look forward to continuing it forever.
Check out last week’s Meet the Media where we spotlighted Kristen Hamilton, editor at the Woodinville Weekly!
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