Media Monday: Knute Berger, Crosscut

Rosalind Brazel / April 16, 2013

Each Monday, we’re giving readers a chance to get to know the media a little better.

With a little flair.

Our goal is to give readers some insight into the work and work style of area journalists, and get to know a little bit about the person behind the byline. Start your week off with an online networking opportunity through our Media Monday blog post.

This Week: Knute Berger, Crosscut

KnuteBergerSmallKnute “Skip” Berger writes for the online daily; he is editor-at-large and columnist for Seattle magazine; and he’s a regular commentator weekly on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW-FM. His latest book is the 50th anniversary history, “Space Needle, the Spirit of Seattle” (2012). He also wrote the regional bestseller “Pugetopolis: A Mossback takes on Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps and the Myth of Seattle Nice” (2009). He contributed to the Crosscut ebook, “First and Main” (2013). In 2012, he was appointed the Denny Lecturer at the Museum of History and Industry. In 2011, he was made Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle. He was previously the longtime editor of Seattle Weekly and founding Editor and Publisher of Eastsideweek.

Q: What’s your favorite story you’ve done in the last week?

A: I did a piece on the new $76 million South Transfer Station in South Park in what has become Seattle’s “Garbage District.” I also looked at whether the city would be better served dealing with its own compostables (turning them into biogas) rather than shipping them off to rot in Kittitas County. It was fun to learn about how city dumps have evolved from what I remember as a kid when we pitched everything into the Union Bay landfill and looked for J.P. Patches’ house.

Q: What skills do new journalists need?

A: The primary quality of good journalist is curiosity. You can teach journalism, but without the drive of curiosity, you’re nowhere, a drone. Obviously you need the communication skills of your chosen field.

Q: If you weren’t working at your current job, what would you be doing?

A: I’d probably be a history professor.

Q: Finish this sentence: “A good PR person is …”

A: There when you need them! They’re also sharp enough to know what kind of stories are a fit and don’t pitch you stuff on the margins. They read or watch or listen to your work.

Q: What hidden talent or skill do you have that viewers/readers don’t know about you?

A: I once performed on stage with the Joffrey Ballet on opening night at the Opera House. Okay, it was a non-dancing role, but still…

The PR Pro Takeaway: Great tips given here for young journalists. Curiosity may have killed the cat but it’s the life of a journalist. Listen to Berger’s clues about pitching. Make sure he is your man and your pitch is something he may cover …and probably not about ballet, unless he gets to be on stage.