Meet the Media: Rob Smith

Bailie Pelletier / February 5, 2020

 

Up next on our Meet the Media series is Rob Smith. Rob is the editor in chief at Seattle Business magazine, as well as an Oregon alumni. Read all about Rob below and be sure to check out some of his stories!

 

1. How did you find yourself in your current role?

I was working at another publication as a national retail reporter/editor when a friend introduced me to the hiring manager at Tiger Oak publications and told me there was an opening. Shortly thereafter, I was hired. This was in October 2018. As well as serving as Seattle Business magazine’s editor in chief, I am now the chief operating officer of Tiger Oak’s Seattle office (meaning I’m the leader of the office and the liaison for communications with the corporate office in Minnesota). Tiger Oak owns 27 publications around the country, including Seattle Magazine and Seattle Business magazine.

 

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

We’ve done several in-depth, topical stories in the past year. Here are five I particularly like: How Seattle’s gritty street scene is threatening the tourism and convention industry, which are both at all-time highs; A look at the Seattle Aquarium makeover, which is the “crown jewel” of the massive waterfront redevelopment; A story on how the federal Opportunity Zones program, which gives investors tax breaks for investing in distressed areas, could be an economic boon to the Olympic Peninsula; a comprehensive look at the city’s space industry, its future and its huge economic impact here; and an in-depth look at Sea-Tac Airport’s capacity crunch, including the search for a second commercial airport outside King County.

 

3. What is your favorite thing about your job?

I get paid to be nosy and talk with interesting people. My job gives me access to CEOs and others reshaping Seattle’s fast-growing economy.

 

4. What is your interview style?

Ask the question and get out of the way, but try to make it a conversation, not an interrogation. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Do your homework ahead of time.

 

5. What do you look for in a story?

Business journalism is all about growth and following the dollars. Who’s spending money around town? What are the competitive pressures? What cultural or strategic initiatives are powering growth? What can other businesses and executives learn from a story?

 

6. What is your day like at your job?

As editor in chief, I’m the quality control manager for the product we sell. I do a lot of writing and editing, plan future issues, and get out of the office as much as I can to represent the publication in the community. As chief operating officer with a seat on the company’s leadership team, I’m responsible for culture, internal office communication and developing strategy to move the organization forward.

 

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

I love Chris Cillizza of CNN.com and his unique form of storytelling. Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald has long been one of my favorite columnists for his thoughtful and persuasive approach. My colleague Bill Conroy – Seattle Business magazine’s managing editor – is the hardest-working journalist I’ve ever been around.

 

8. What is your favorite news outlet?

I’m a fan of the Puget Sound Business Journal; I worked for the Business Journal chain for 18 years, including 11 years as editor of Portland Business Journal and 2 ½ as editor of Puget Sound Business Journal. I like CNN.com. I love how Esquire presents news. And Quartz is one of my go-to sites every morning.

 

9. Fill in the blank:
  • If I am not working, I am…Coaching my 10-year-old son’s baseball and basketball teams, at the gym or playing basketball, listening to music, keenly following current events or reading about Mafia or presidential history.
  • If I could interview anyone, it would be… Joe Pistone, who was undercover agent Donnie Brasco in the 1970s. His work broke open the secret world of the Mafia (he almost became a made man), and he knew even the slightest mistake could get him killed. And he did it for 6 years! Historically, it would be Harry Truman. He helped create a prosperous post-World War II world during the most difficult of times. Business-wise: Nike founder Phil Knight.
  • My favorite thing about Seattle is… Its natural beauty. Definitely not the transportation…

 

10. What is your guilty pleasure?

A really hoppy Northwest IPA!

 

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