By James Tabafunda
Northwest Asian Weekly
The print publication of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ended on March 17, and so did many of its employees’ jobs.
Former Asian American journalists John Iwasaki, Kristin Dizon, and Brad Wong can recall many good experiences at the P-I, as the paper is known locally. But only 20 reporters and editors remain to run the paper’s online publication, seattlepi.com.
“I was really touched at the end … when we got messages, individually or to the paper as a whole, from people who were just heartbroken,” Iwasaki admitted.
He worked at the newspaper for 21 years — 18 years as a reporter and three years as an editor. “I covered education about half of the time I was there and edited education news,” he said. “The other half of the time, I covered religion, race and ethnic groups, and social issues.”
Iwasaki added, “I’m not seeking to do that anymore, working as a journalist, but I still want to make a difference.”
“Like John, I was also looking to make a career transition before this happened,” said Dizon.
According to Iwasaki, the loss of the newspaper (or any media outlet) means less coverage of diverse groups, including Asian Americans. “A lot of people at the P-I care about getting people in the paper who were not the same movers and shakers that you always see,” he added.
Wong agrees and adds that there are fewer professional reporters working to “expand the scope of knowledge of people in the Seattle area.”
As for what he has learned from the layoff, Iwasaki said, “I viewed it as an opportunity for something new and good to happen out of this really sad event.”
The three former P-I staff members are now counted among the 9.2 percent of Washington residents who are unemployed. However, the trio has not been wallowing in self-pity.
“Life after the P-I is surprisingly busy, I would say,” said Dizon, a former features writer of human interest stories and profiles and reporter at the newspaper for the last nine years.
She says she feels fortunate that her husband has a stable job and added, “I had to cut my son’s hours way down in day care so that I could still work on looking for a job.”
After mentioning several things that all job seekers are expected to do, Dizon said, “Because I have two small children, I don’t have as much time to do those things, so I really have to maximize my hours without kids.”
Wong worked at the P-I for seven years, including two years at its Bellevue bureau. He said, “I covered regional issues (in Bellevue).” He then worked in Seattle and covered business issues such as biotechnology, economics, and trade.
Last April, he worked with Iwasaki and reporter Aubrey Cohen on an article about the Dalai Lama’s appearance at KeyArena for the Seeds of Compassion conference.
Wong is also busy doing the same job-search activities as Iwasaki and Dizon, but he points out that balance is important. “You need to get your mind off of where the economy is,” said Wong. “If all you do is dwell, then, logically, there’s no reason to get out of bed.”
“My son and I will go park at Boeing Field for an hour, and we just roll down the window. We wave at all the big UPS jets that land, and then we watch them take off,” Wong admitted with a smile.
The former journalists all look forward to their new jobs. Iwasaki is looking for one with the “right fit.”
He is in the second week of a 30-day outplacement planning, a complimentary service given to all laid-off P-I employees by the Hearst Corporation.
Iwasaki emphasized that former journalists can not only help companies and organizations communicate better, but they are able to “do it quickly.”
“In the broader business world, this doesn’t happen, at least in written communication,” he added.
About her nearly decade-long career at the P-I, Dizon said, “I loved working there. I loved the people I worked with. … I got to do a lot of really incredible things while I was there.” ♦
James Tabafunda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.