NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Journalist and columnist Joel Connelly to retire from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Yes­ter­day, the Pacif­ic North­west learned that one of its longest-serv­ing, hard­est work­ing scribes will soon con­clude his dis­tin­guished career at the Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer after almost fifty years of ser­vice to the region.

Joel Con­nel­ly, who I am hon­ored to call a friend, has announced that he will be retir­ing from Hearst (which owns the P‑I) as of June 30th.

It’s the end of an era. He broke the news on Face­book and Twit­ter.

A birth­day announce­ment, in place of usu­al taste­less humor about grow­ing old: I will retire from SeattlePI.com at the end of June. Want to stay on job thru pan­dem­ic, and allow reg­u­lar read­ers to ramp up new insom­nia cure.

I am last sur­vivor of print Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer. As of end of June, will be almost 47 years since I signed on as sum­mer replace­ment. Seat­tle May­or Wes Ull­man was fac­ing uphill reelec­tion race.

If I had stayed thru elec­tion, gloomy Novem­ber would be my first retire­ment month. Instead, get to spend time at glo­ri­ous fam­i­ly cab­in on Whid­bey, and con­tribute the occa­sion­al col­umn.

Besides, although ranks have shrunk, polit­i­cal and envi­ron­men­tal report­ing in Wash­ing­ton is strong, in some cas­es (e.g. Times envi­ron­ment) excep­tion­al.

I am a cra­dle con­ser­va­tion­ist, dat­ing from hikes with folks on Mount Bak­er when I was six. The work at P‑I has allowed me to be defender/advocate of the nat­ur­al North­west, and giv­en me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to share it’s beau­ties.

It’s a job that, at times, allowed me to make a dif­fer­ence.

I’ve done pre­cious lit­tle loaf­ing since 1973. My leaves of absence were to trek into base of Ever­est and Cho Oyu, and to write book with ex-Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Cecil Andrus. Two weeks of read­ing at Bay­ou de Los Ange­les in Baja last Novem­ber cre­at­ed appetite for more.

What will I do? Haven’t decid­ed. At the moment, with COVID-19, I need to stay alive to have a life.

After near­ly half a cen­tu­ry, amaz­ing that Hearst Corp. has put up with me for all these years, and I with it. A good run.

A good run, indeed.

Joel Connelly at Clingmans Dome

Jour­nal­ist and colum­nist Joel Con­nel­ly takes in a sun­set at Cling­mans Dome, Great Smoky Moun­tains Nation­al Park, in 2017 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute)

When Joel retires, there will be no one left at the Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer who worked there dur­ing its print days, as he not­ed.

The print edi­tion of the P‑I ceased pub­li­ca­tion eleven years ago, and many P‑I jour­nal­ists and edi­tors depart­ed at that time for oth­er projects.

But Joel stayed, and cov­ered three midterm elec­tion cycles, two pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycles, and six local elec­tion cycles for the P‑I’s online-only incar­na­tion.

What a great gift to our region that was.

He is now pro­vid­ing cov­er­age of a third pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle since the P‑I went online-only — one tru­ly unlike any oth­er we’ve ever seen.

There are few peo­ple who know more Pacif­ic North­west polit­i­cal lore than Joel Con­nel­ly. He is an excep­tion­al sto­ry­teller in addi­tion to being an exem­plary jour­nal­ist. He can enchant a room with sto­ries of great hikes or spark great mer­ri­ment by telling tales of hilar­i­ous news­pa­per typos and oth­er news indus­try bloop­ers.

One of the rea­sons Joel is such an effec­tive and trea­sured jour­nal­ist is that he always keeps his ear to the ground and asks peo­ple: “Whad­daya hear?”

I don’t know any­one who prac­tices the craft bet­ter.

He would rather inter­view some­one for a sto­ry than run a quote from a press release. He would rather observe an elect­ed offi­cial at work in the com­mu­ni­ty than at a staged, tight­ly-con­trolled press con­fer­ence. And he would rather devel­op his own angle for a news item, using his lengthy rolodex, than fol­low the herd.

When­ev­er pos­si­ble, Joel turns to young peo­ple for his sto­ries and columns, fea­tur­ing their work and let­ting their voic­es be heard. He is a great friend and ally to my gen­er­a­tion, the mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion, and the gen­er­a­tion com­ing after it.

Though Joel’s time as a Hearst employ­ee will soon be com­ing to an end, I hope and expect that he will con­tin­ue to write columns from time to time. Our region can still ben­e­fit from his wis­dom, even after he retires from the P‑I.

Con­grat­u­la­tions, Joel, and thank you for every­thing. The staff, board, and advi­so­ry coun­cil of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute deeply appre­ci­ate you.

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