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.
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.