Don’t overlook the home of Microsoft, Amazon, Zillow and other innovative companies large and small when looking for voices in media thought leadership. Below are observations and insights from a handful of the city’s media leaders that I collected while accompanying a Missouri School of Journalism innovation and entrepreneurship class as they visited each venue.

Sarah Rupp, executive producer, Seattle PI

Founded in 1863 as the weekly Gazette, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer became a digital-only operation in early 2009. The Hearst experiment in Seattle, operating with what one might generously call a skeleton staff, has survived six years while its print-digital sisters in San Francisco and Houston continue their dual-track efforts. What has Sarah learned these past six years?

  • There are pluses of having a small staff. The team is nimble, and quick to respond and adjust. The flexibility is actually a competitive advantage. “We don’t have to call a meeting to figure out what we’re going to do. We’re out the door in a flash. Our ‘meetings’ are ongoing conversations all day long.”
  • “A small staff forces us to be smarter about what we cover, to prioritize. We now select beats, coverage carefully, to maximize where we can have impact. If everyone else is doing it, we probably don’t need to be doing it, and can focus on what’s missing.” For example: the P-I doesn’t cover national or international news. They use parent Hearst and the AP for that.
  • How does the P-I prioritize and determine what to focus on? They look for stories and topics that are most shared or talked about in the market (“talkers”). That would be the Seahawks and Mariners (“We don’t really cover [day-to-day] college sports — this market is rabid for the pro sports.”)
  • A contrast planning between The Seattle Times and the P-I? “They have budget meetings, we have a rolling discussion.”

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Brian Steffens  
Director of Communications


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