1. How did you find yourself writing for The Seattle Times?
I’ve been writing for newspapers since I was in college. My arrival at the Times in 1998 followed reporting positions at The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Orange County Register and The Raleigh News & Observer. I was recruited by former Executive Editor David Boardman after I won an award… they were looking for a Metro columnist to replace Terry McDermott, who was moving to Los Angeles.
2. Which of your stories are you most proud of?
I like the stories that are about everyday people doing extraordinary things. Two sisters who were brutally raped rising above what happened to them; one of them going on to open her own hair salon. Early on, I wrote about a man whose family named his El Camino as one of his survivors in his obituary. I wrote about a guy who got a new cell phone and learned pretty quickly that the number used to belong to Sir Mix-a-Lot. I like stories that make a change, but I also like to write about things that readers can relate to, like the time I had to stay with my ex-husband during a days-long power failure. I also like to help to right wrongs, and give a voice to people who may not be able to have one otherwise.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job?
So many things… being able to meet people I have long admired: authors and musicians and activists like Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood. I like being able to ask people questions that we’ve always wondered about; just indulging my own sense of curiosity. I love the fact that I get to craft it all into a story – to WRITE for a living! Amazing! And I also love my colleagues and the work they do… we are involved in the pulse of the city, of the state and the world every day. It can be a little crazy, but we thrive on it.
4. What is your interview style?
I like to think it’s conversational. I do a lot of research ahead of time, so there’s a lot that I DON’T have to ask. That allows me to ask about other, perhaps more personal and thoughtful things… I usually have a set list of questions, but if someone’s answer leads in another direction, I’m happy to veer off the road and go there. Some people aren’t.
5. What do you look for in a story?
So many things: Human interest, uniqueness, controversy, surprise, whether we’ve written about it before. Outrage. Humor. Relatability. I like to think I know a good story when I see it… and I have a lot of smart colleagues who are wonderful to brainstorm with. Do they see what I do? Or maybe something I didn’t?
6. What is your day like at your job?
I usually have an interview planned, so I’ll prepare or conduct the interview and then start writing. Other days, I am planning my story and column schedule. We need to plan pretty far ahead, so I am on the phone with people or publicists, trying to get things nailed down. Or I’m talking with my editor and shooting ideas around with colleagues. Or meeting someone who thinks they might have a story.
7. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
Not one person; I think I really admire people who have been at it for a long time and are able to adapt to the digital changes we’ve seen in the last several years. The people I look most DOWN on are the ones who use our hard work, research, ideas and writing and either rewrite it (countless websites) or just repeat it without giving us credit (radio and TV stations). It’s stealing, and it’s disgusting.
8. What is your favorite news outlet?
Probably The New York Times, mainly for its Sunday Styles section. I’ve pored over it since I was a kid.
9. Fill in the blank:
- If I am not reporting, I am… writing on deadline.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be… I already got my dream interview: Melinda French Gates. Although, who wouldn’t want to ask Melania Trump about how things are going at her house?
- My favorite thing about Seattle is… Being able to see the water in almost every direction. And if it’s not water, it’s snow-capped mountains. Stunning.
10. What is your guilty pleasure?
A Ketel One martini with blue-cheese-stuffed olives. But just one. And the Boston Cream donuts at Top Pot.
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