Former news reporters and Seattle City Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, and Jean Godden are working to get the Seattle P-I Globe designated as a historical landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Board. They plan on submitting a formal application next week.
Godden wants one of Seattle’s most identifiable neon structures to be preserved for future generations.
Feeling sentimental and adding the visual icon to Seattle’s more than 350 historical landmarks are fine, but what really distinguishes the city above others is its people and quality of life. Most of the 160 laid-off P-I reporters and editors are still looking for work, and they deserve equal, if not more, attention.
Fewer journalism jobs — in addition to fewer jobs overall — makes living in the Emerald City more of a familiar temporary stop among journalists than a final destination.
We feel the dedicated journalists who have worked hard underneath the globe’s bright neon lights deserve job offers during their time of loss. We particularly share in the pain felt by our fellow Asian American reporters and editors at the Seattle P-I. They, too, must continue to pay for such expenses as mortgages and health care.
A 2004 study by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the Asian American Journalists Association found that although Asian Americans make up 4.2 percent of the country’s population, only two percent of newspaper newsroom supervisors are Asian American.
With the last Seattle P-I published on March 17, the number of Asian American newsroom supervisors grows smaller. In addition, newspapers in major cities around the country — Chicago, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, for example — are facing bankruptcy or even closing their businesses, which can create a situation that, ultimately, leads to even fewer stories about Asian Americans and their issues.
Readers still value what print journalists create. A recent Pew Research Center study found that 43 percent of those polled said the absence of their local paper would damage civic life “a lot.”
We encourage former P-I staffers to become entrepreneurs. Some are now working alone or with other former reporters to create online ventures that provide local news or industry-specific information, ones that are already developing opportunities for other unemployed journalists. These ventures can even be temporary projects done between job searches.
Public relations firms and other companies in closely related fields should quickly snatch these journalists before they find greener pastures elsewhere.
Nonprofit organizations should find a way to add these former P-I staffers and put them to work on projects that make a real difference in this community. Some may find their talents useful in applying for grants, for example.
To those P-I staffers who intend on staying in journalism, networking with others will always be one of the best ways to latch onto that next job. It’s all about getting leads, and in our profession, good leads always require a follow-up investigation. (end)