In the 45 years since Willamette Week published its first edition, hundreds of reporters, editors, artists and interns have come through our doors. For many, their time at Willamette Week was their first real exposure to the world of journalism.
Many have gone on to spectacular careers.
One of our past interns, Chelsea Emery, recently sent us the following letter along with a financial contribution to Friends of Willamette Week.
Dear Friends of Willamette Week,
A long time ago, I fell in love with journalism while interning at Willamette Week. And that early immersion in a hardworking, independent, dynamic and truth-telling newsroom shaped me forever.
In 1986, I was an intern at WW, assigned to work with Katherine Dunn on her popular Q&A column "The Slice." It was three years before Dunn, who in addition to writing a column for WW was its boxing writer, became world famous with the publication of Geek Love, a fictional tale of a traveling carnival that was nominated for a National Book Award.
But that was well after I arrived early one spring morning at WW's brightly lit, paper-cluttered newsroom at Second and Burnside.
I was put to work right away. Dunn handed me a manila folder of letters from Portlanders seeking answers to questions that plagued them: How were paint colors named? Why did the Steel Bridge have grates in the middle instead of concrete? I started making calls. By the end of the internship, I learned how to call strangers and keep them on the phone until I got what I needed.
Dunn also invited me along on reporting trips in her beat-up, smoke-smelling car. On one trip, especially memorable, she sought information about a man who had died in a hotel. She interviewed the manager. Then she grilled me. What did I see in that room? What did I feel? What stood out?
Those few days, those calls, those trips in Dunn's rattling car started me on the path to my calling as a reporter and ultimately as an editor. WW's dedication to hard, breaking news, tough questions and strong writing, along with a bit of whimsy, intrigued and inspired me. Like the paper she worked for, Dunn was strict and detail oriented. She was fair to sources, to other reporters, to me. She was kind.
I'm now a journalist who has worked for Bloomberg, Reuters and BBC, and I'm now the editor in chief of Financial Planning magazine and financial-planning.com in New York City.
So thank you Willamette Week. Thanks for the hard work. Journalism has always been a challenging career but we now face unprecedented challenges just to survive. If we do survive, it's because the DNA of our profession evolved through reporters/editors like Katherine Dunn and those I met at WW.
That's why I'm proud to be a friend of WW.