Meet the Media: Melissa Hellmann

Erin Dubots / February 13, 2019

We’re excited to share our first Meet the Media feature of 2019! For this week’s Meet the Media, we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Hellmann, a city reporter at Seattle Weekly.

Melissa Hellmann

 1. How did you find yourself as a City Reporter at Seattle Weekly?

I joined the Seattle Weekly team in October 2017, a couple of months after completing a yearlong reporting fellowship at YES! Magazine on Bainbridge Island. I’d hopped around the world in pursuit of different gigs and reporting opportunities for nearly 10 years, so I was intent on sticking around after my YES! Magazine fellowship ended. A former classmate from U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism worked at the Weekly and recommended the job to me when there was an opening. I jumped at the opportunity to stay in Seattle and cover a region that I’d grown to love.

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

I’m passionate about writing in-depth features and investigations with a human focus. I prefer to write stories that hold power accountable and highlight marginalized voices. A few months ago I published a long-form investigation about alleged medical negligence at the Northwest Detention Center. It was a privilege to hear people’s stories and to thoroughly research a complex topic.

 3. What is your favorite thing about your job?

I’m grateful that I have the freedom to dive deeply into different subject matters. It keeps life interesting and I’m constantly learning!

4. What is your interview style?

I strive to meet my sources where they’re at through a conversational tone and exercising empathy. Even when I’m holding someone to account, I still seek to highlight their perspective.

5. What do you look for in a story?

I look for stories that draw attention to inequities, or for a new angle that will add to the conversation.

6. What is your day like at your job?

It varies by the day. When I’m working on an enterprise piece, I’ll spend it reporting, tracking down sources, or culling through public records. If I’m on deadline, then I’ll spend the day writing and doing research on a quick turnaround story.

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

I appreciate hard-hitting reporters who can write compelling prose. Some of my favorites are Katherine Boo, Joan Didion, Evan Osnos and Rachel Aviv.

8. What is your favorite news outlet?

Some of my favorites include The New Yorker, The Marshall Project, California Sunday Magazine, The New York Times and the Associated Press. For local news, I often read The Seattle Times.

9. Fill in the blank:

  • If I am not reporting, I am… Dancing at a concert, hiking, doing yoga, cooking, meditating, or listening to comedy podcasts.
  • If I could interview anyone, it would be…  Joy Williams, one of my favorite fiction writers. Her writing style is a blend of absurd realism and dark humor; I’d love to pick her brain for a day!
  • My favorite thing about Seattle is… The proximity to the mountains.

10. What is your guilty pleasure? Reading self-help books.


Check out our last Meet the Media where we spotlighted Olivia Sullivan, a reporter at the Federal Way Mirror.

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