Goodbye — and hello | Editor’s Note | Craig Groshart

Today is my last day at the Reporter. I’m retiring. It’s been fun, interesting and personally rewarding.

Today is my last day at the Reporter. I’m retiring.

For someone who never planned to go into journalism, I’ve suddenly discovered that I’ve spent the last 33-plus years writing stories and taking photographs of people and organizations with newspapers that one way or the other have become part of Sound Publishing. Add in other papers I’ve worked for in the Northwest and my career is even longer.

It’s been fun, interesting and personally rewarding.

I knew in high school that I wanted to do something that would be a benefit to society. At the time, I had my eyes set on the foreign service as a way to contribute to the greater good. Two things got in the way.

My college major was political science, and while I found politics interesting and enjoyable, studying the theory of government was not. Also, it seemed like a good idea to speak a second language. I reasoned that my four years of studying Latin in high school wouldn’t do much, so I took French. I discovered I have a tin ear for languages. After a year of study about all I could say in French was “French fries.”

I then spent several quarters at the University of Washington looking for something else.

I found journalism — or maybe it found me. The writing was fun and interesting and I quickly knew that done right, a journalist could give back to the community by accurately telling readers what was going on in the world around them.

It didn’t matter if I personally agreed with the person or the issue in my story. I’ve always believed that if a community had as much information as possible about a situation or issue, it would make the right decision — whatever that decision turned out to be.

In other words, I wanted to tell the story, not be part of it.

All the papers I’ve worked for — dailies and weeklies — have emphasized local, community news. And these days, more than ever, I think that’s what we need.

We’re coming and going so fast that many of us don’t know our neighbors. After a long, grinding commute to and from work, we’re often too exhausted to attend a public meeting. At the same time, we’re bombarded with an endless stream of information through social media.

Journalists always have been there to help sort that out.

These days that’s becoming more of a challenge. Gathering news and getting it to readers (or viewers) is labor intensive. Someone has to go to the meeting to tell you what went on. Someone has to interview officials to find out where they stand on issues. Someone has to gather the bits and pieces of community events and give them to you in a concise, readable way.

These days there are a host of blogs. But that doesn’t mean they’re a source for news, regardless of what they say.

When the Seattle P-I said it was ending its print edition and being on-line only, many people commented that that was OK because they only read the P-I online anyway. Perhaps it didn’t dawn on them that the only reason there were local stories online was that the P-I’s print reporters wrote them and put them there.

The P-I saved money when it ended its print edition. No more paper and ink to buy or people to pay to operate the press. But it still needed reporters to write stories. And, unfortunately, online advertising doesn’t yet produce enough revenue to pay for lots of reporters. Fortunately Sound Publishing still believes in community newspapers and provides stories both in print and online.

I’ve also been amazed in how producing news for readers has changed over time.

My first newspaper job (not counting delivering them) was operating a linotype machine, a mechanical behemoth that injected molten metal into brass molds of letters and cast them into lines of type. I did this alone at night at a community newspaper and also operated the press — again on my own.

I was 15.

It was great fun and I’m still thankful that state or federal agencies didn’t find out and tell me I couldn’t do what was obviously a dangerous job.

As I began working on newspapers as a journalist, news stories were produced on strips of glossy paper and pasted on to sheets to make news pages, which were photographed to make plates to go on a press. Today we can generate news stories and photos on our cell phones and send them instantly around the world.

As I approach my last week here at the Reporter, I’ve been looking back at a number of stories I have covered. A memorable one was spending a day with Issaquah schools superintendent Kateri Brow as cancer forced her to make changes in her life, but not stint on service to kids, teachers and the community.

The Eastside was — and still it — full of remarkable people doing their best to make this area the special place it is.

So, now, though I’m saying “goodbye,” I’m also saying “hello.”

Reporting and editing stories doesn’t fit into a predictable work day so too often writing and editing the news becomes all-consuming. There’s always a story out there to be discovered and covered.

The result is that I’ve had less time than I wanted to be personally involved in the community. I’ve done some volunteering, of course. I’ve been on the board of what is now Leadership Eastside. And I served on and been president of the Eastside board of United Way. And somehow I’ve managed to donate 100 units of blood or plasma to the Puget Sound Blood Center (it’s now called Bloodworks — pretty apt, I think). That last feat is due to their continuing to call me to donate and me having the good sense to say “yes.”

With more time, I hope to find more ways to help out in the community. I still have that need to make the world a better place. Let me know if you have some ideas. I should have some time to spare.

I won’t be in the office, of course. But you can contact me at

It’s been an honor and a privilege to be part of your lives.