I’ll cut to the chase: back in September, after much soul-searching, I decided that after six years of work on SCC Insight it was time for me to move on. At the end of December, I’ll be discontinuing publishing here.
I started SCC Insight in late 2015 as a writing project, after I had left my corporate job and when I needed a daily impetus to continue developing my writing skills. I had neither the foresight nor the intention that it would grow into what it has become today, nor did I understand that I was creating a monster that would quickly take over my life. I’m very proud of the reporting that I’ve done: demystifying City Hall’s arcane processes so that we all can understand them, as well as trying to complement traditional news media reporting with a data-driven and analytical approach to specific issues. But every journalist working the local government beat can tell you that it is both physically and mentally exhausting. I’ve learned so much over the past six years, but I’m ready to do something new.
I want to thank every government official and staff member who made time to talk to me, and every local journalist who treated me like a peer when they had no good reason to do so — especially in the early days when I had no clue what I was doing. I have done my best to return the favor, and to “pay it forward” to other journalists new to the scene, but I don’t believe I could ever fully repay the debt I owe. In particular, I want to thank Leslie Helm, Omari Salisbury, Marcus Green, and David Brewster for taking a chance on me.
I also want to thank all of the financial donors who have generously supported SCC Insight. I’ve saved up enough of your donations to keep this web site up and maintained for several years, so it can remain as an archive — as always, free to everyone — of observations on six important and often tumultuous years of Seattle city government.
As for what I’ll be doing next: I honestly don’t know. I have a handful of ideas for new projects, but I have deferred making any decisions until next year, so I can both stay focused on finishing up the final months of SCC Insight without shortchanging coverage, and also get fully clear of it and regain some perspective. But I do know that it won’t involve reporting on City Hall, nor lobbying City Hall, nor working in City Hall (I lost count years ago of the number of times I’ve been asked whether this site was a precursor to running for office; the answer was “no” then, and it’s still “no”). I’m not moving out of Seattle, and I will continue to try to be an informed and engaged citizen; it just won’t be my job to do so.
My most sincere thanks goes to each of you, the readers. Kurt Vonnegut observed that reading is hard work, and if we writers are going to ask you to read our work, we have an obligation to make it worth your while. I have tried to keep that in mind with every post. My greatest joy in writing here, the one that has sustained me for six years, is the discovery that there is an audience for “wordy and nerdy” writing: an audience that wants to understand the details, wants to see the data presented in informative ways, and sometimes even wants to read the original source documents.
We seem to be in the midst of a Great Reshuffling of local journalism in Seattle, especially among those covering City Hall. I’m delighted for those of my colleagues who have recently taken a new step in their careers, and I’m glad that most of them are staying local so that we can continue to benefit from their work. We doubtless will also see some new bylines soon as open positions are filled with talented newcomers. Please continue to support (and pay for) local journalism; it’s critical for a functional society and an accountable government. I also encourage you to take this opportunity to let local publishers know what kind of journalism you want to see, and if “wordy and nerdy” is your thing, then demand more of it.
It has been a privilege to write for SCC Insight, and I am forever changed for having done so.