Last week, arts editor and food writer Bethany Jean Clement announced she was leaving Capitol Hill’s only newspaper to pick up the food and drink beat at the Seattle Times. It was the latest in a year of big editorial change-ups for The Stranger, which occupies 2.5 floors above Value Village and the Rhino Room at 11th and Pine and is — perhaps — the most well known of all Capitol Hill businesses.
Publisher Tim Keck told CHS the staff changes don’t represent much more than the steady turnovers now commonplace in many newsrooms. Without tying it to specific staff changes, Keck did say The Stranger is trying to chart a course that better balances deeply reported stories with the impassioned and uncompromising voices the paper and its blog, the Slog, are known for.
“Loud, brash opinions are a dime a dozen,” he said. “It’s really important for publications to distinguish ourselves from that.”
Significant editorial changes began at the end of 2013 with the departure of Cienna Madrid. In May, horseass.org writer David Goldstein (aka Goldy) made an abrupt exit. In July, Keck brought in Kathleen Richards from Oakland’s East Bay Express, who vowed a more “earnest” approach to covering the city. A couple months later, Dominic Holden announced he would pursue national reporting opportunities in New York City.
Keck, who didn’t go into specifics on any current or former staff, said more masthead changes could be coming in 2015.
One change that is definitely in the works is The Stranger’s address. Keck said the newspaper and its 53 employees will be moving out by February 2016 after 15 years in its current space. The auto row-era Bocker and Brown Buildings are slated to be redeveloped as a preservation incentive-boosted office project. As The Stranger crew would have to vacate for more than a year, Keck said he’s currently seeking a permanent home elsewhere.
“We’re looking around the market, Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill. We want to be where the action is,” he said. “We’ve been on the Hill forever, but if we can’t be on the Hill, we can’t be on the Hill.”
Staying on Capitol Hill would hinge on finding 10,000 square feet of office space on a single floor. Keck said he’s open to suggestions.