One of the clichés of journalism, shopworn but true, is that everybody has a story. What gets said less often is that most people aren’t sure what their story is, and when told a version of the tale, they won’t like it.
In the course of 25 years as a reporter and editor, I’ve often had the awkward task of holding up a mirror to people who would prefer to be flattered. That’s the primary role of journalists, I believe: We tell uncomfortable truths, and hope that a confrontation with reality will spur change.
No media company I’ve worked for—hell, none I’ve read—is as committed to that task as WW. Over the years, we’ve challenged governors and mayors, corporations and nonprofits, and asked them to square their behavior with their rhetoric. That challenge to power has often made us unpopular: Nobody likes seeing their heroes dressed down. But it’s also kept this city honest, or at least a little more so.
I’ve been thinking about that basic charge more often as my role at WW expands. Starting Jan. 1, I’ll be the managing editor. Long story short, that means I’m responsible—accountable to you, the reader—for every word of editorial copy we publish. That means yearlong investigations, reviews of last weekend’s concerts, and blog posts about the weather forecast.
Our core task is to tell Portland the story of itself.
That means holding a mirror up not just to powerful people, but to a metro-area home to more than a million. Like any person, Portland often isn’t sure what its own story is. Lately, the city feels deeply conflicted: a place torn between pride in its idiosyncrasies and self-loathing at the conditions those habits have permitted.
So how are we supposed to see ourselves? I’m not sure either. But I promise that WW will always put in the extra hours of work to find out, and won’t be afraid to say what we discover.
If that’s a story you want told, we ask for your help