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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Emily Heffter Becomes Fifth Woman to Leave Seattle Times Newsroom in Recent Months

Posted by on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 12:05 PM

The fifth woman to exit the Seattle Times newsroom in the last several months, Emily Heffter, who has covered politics and city hall, says she's leaving next week for a job at real-estate tracking firm Zillow. What's she going to do there? "I don't know, wear skinny jeans to work," jokes Heffter. As if it needs to be said: Heffter always lacked the stuffiness of the Fairview Fanny culture. She also stood out for her sharp copy and was known for being uniquely impervious to politicians who attempted to spin her stories. In her new gig, she'll be writing copy that Zillow distributes to new outlets, presumably for better money—and, while she didn't say it, a more prosperous enterprise.

Let's be clear: This sucks for Seattle.

She started in the Seattle Times suburban bureau a decade ago at the age of 24. But troubles seem to have begun when Heffter was removed from the full-time City Hall beat when she left on maternity leave a couple years ago, being replaced, unfortunately, by a veritable city council stenographer named Lynn Thompson.

Heffter leaves the newsroom on the heels of business reporter Melissa Allison; food writer Nancy Leson; general-assignment reporter Maureen O'Hagan; and reporter Joni Balter. Editorial board member Lynne Varner also left recently. A few men have filed into the news room lately, including the undeniably-awesome Lewis Kamb.

UPDATE: I updated the post to include Balter and Varner, two more female writers out the door. It's practically an XX exodus. Zing!

UPDATE: This post originally said Zillow "sells" its content to news sites, but I've corrected that to say "distributes." Zillow spokeswoman Camile Salama says he company's "content is pitched to media sites we have relationships with... This all completely free and is a way for these outlets to get more rich real estate content and for us to get our brand out there."


Comments (14) RSS

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NotSean 1
But hot?
Or not?
Posted by NotSean on February 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM · Report this
MrBaker 2
The Seattle Times just got worse.

Lynn Thompson, when she is not parroting whatever the council says to say, is Frank Blethen's mouthpiece.
Posted by MrBaker on February 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM · Report this
fletc3her 3
I start to feel like the concept of a newspaper is an anachronism. Sorry, The Stranger, but I am occasionally surprised to find the articles I read online are actually printed as well. The sooner The Times implodes the sooner we can find out what replaces it. Can it, The Stranger, or any other "paper" survive as an online only entity?
Posted by fletc3her on February 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Heffter's departure proves the adage about there being no honor among thieves. She stuck a knife in the backs of both Darcy Burner and Rob Holland for Blethen and they reward her by giving her a demotion upon return from maternity leave while the hackish Lynn Thompson gets the City Hall beat.
Posted by junipero on February 27, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 5
@3 lots of news sources survive fine as online only. The problem with the Times is their principle demographic may be... a bit older and less "online".
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM · Report this
What happened with Joni Balter?
Posted by elaineinballard on February 27, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
On online-only news: Look to First Look Media, the new Pierre-Omidyar-backed venture from Glen Greenwald et. al. Their first project, The Intercept, is outstanding.

The following is quoted from an article about The Intercept co-creator Jeremy Scahill and his Oscar nomination for his film, "Dirty Wars":
Scahill, Greenwald, and Poitras had talked about setting up some kind of site where they could publish work that was not appropriate for the venues where they most currently were seen. Instead, that night they pitched Omidyar on starting their own news organization.

The new site will actually be a series of sites with tent-pole journalists filing long, investigative stories on their areas of interest. Younger reporters will fill in the gaps. Matt Taibbi, for example, recently recruited from Rolling Stone, will not end up at The Intercept, but at an offshoot with a largely separate staff.

The whole venture will have a lower wall between owner and journalist than traditional media. Omidyar, he says, wanted to do the project because he was interested in Fourth Amendment issues, and they are hiring teams of lawyers, not just to keep the staff from getting sued, but to actively push courts on the First Amendment, to “force confrontation with the state on these issues.”

“[Omidyar] strikes me as always sort of political, but I think that the NSA story and the expanding wars put politics for him into a much more prominent place in his existence. This is not a side project that he is doing. Pierre writes more on our internal messaging than anyone else. And he is not micromanaging. This guy has a vision. And his vision is to confront what he sees as an assault on the privacy of Americans.”

Meanwhile, Scahill says The Intercept wants to do no less than re-write the relationship between journalists and the people they cover. If, for example, they were asked to hold a story because the White House or the Pentagon deemed that publication would harm national security, Scahill said, “Never.”

“We had a long discussion about this internally; about what our position would be if the White House asked us to not publish something. We came to the conclusion that we would always give them a chance to weigh in on a story, but we are not going to make an agreement not to publish based on what they say. They always, and everyone who works on this NSA stuff knows this, but they always say that if you publish it, it will damage national security. It has become a meaningless statement. It is like people who say ‘literally’ all the time. Everything becomes about ‘national security.’ I think we are going to have the most adversarial relationship with those entities of any media outlet with a profile. We are not going to make a deal—especially a secret deal—to decide to hold a story. We are just not going to do that.”

If people in power do not quite know what to make of this, all the better.

“I think that the White House, whether it is under Republican or Democrat, they pretty much now who they are dealing with. There are outlets like The Daily Beast, or The Huffington Post that have risen up in the past decade, but they are very quickly just becoming part of the broader mainstream media, and with people that have spent their careers working for magazines or newspapers or what have you, and the White House believes they all speak the language on these things. With us, because we want to be adversarial, they won’t know what bat phone to call. They know who to call at The Times, they know who to call at The Post. With us, who are they going to call? Pierre? Glenn?”

He laughed at the notion of the White House calling Greenwald and imploring him to hold off on publication.
Posted by Phil M http:// on February 27, 2014 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Lynne Varner also left recently.
Posted by Bort on February 27, 2014 at 1:27 PM · Report this
seatackled 9
Five is two higher than the three women reporters who have left the Stranger in recent months. So I guess it is a big deal.
Posted by seatackled on February 27, 2014 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Of course, the Times has a woman editor, woman editorial page editor, multiple women as assistant managing editors, etc.

And the Stranger? Whole bunch of white males running the show.
Posted by bigyaz on February 27, 2014 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Heffter is a smart cookie and I always respected her reporting. (Emily, I hope you know who I am.)

Lynne Varner, not bright and a mouthpiece for ed reform. No loss there.
Posted by westello on February 27, 2014 at 5:56 PM · Report this
@9, well, we all know the writers for the Stranger/SLoG aren't gender-equal in numbers, and probably in pay too.
Posted by ChefJoe on February 27, 2014 at 10:08 PM · Report this
I met Emily Heffter when she covered the school beat. She was a great reporter then and only got better. I always read her stories with interest.
Posted by Charlie Mas on February 28, 2014 at 10:38 AM · Report this
Wow, guess it must be all the weed you're smoking, but The Stranger's short-term memory loss astounds me. Isn't Heffter the same reporter that The Stranger has taken great delight in bashing over the years?

Like in this post by Goldy:

Or this facebook post by Dominic:…

But now suddenly, because Heffter is leaving the Seattle Times, "this sucks for Seattle.," simply because it goes better with today's narrative.

What a bunch of crap. The truly pathetic journalism going on here is The Stranger's continued cartoonish portrayals of people who are e simply used as props in whatever agenda- or point-du-jour they're trying to make.

I'm sure Heffter's departure from the Seattle Times has nothing to do with the sexism or gender discrimination that the Stranger implies. This whole post is just shoddy, disingenuous tripe.
Posted by Krugman on March 1, 2014 at 3:16 AM · Report this

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