In the news business, we often call what we do “writing the first draft of history.” While historians tend to consider history after it has happened, journalists write the news as it is happening. At the Seattle Times, we aim to be accurate, thorough and fair. But, as first drafts go, we have not always hit the mark.

The consequences of such missteps in the media can cause lasting harm in our communities.

With the A1 Revisited project, The Seattle Times directly addresses the harm some of our past coverage has caused. We dig into our archives to “revisit” the front-page stories (or stories that should have been front-page) in which we covered significant historical events.

While we cannot rewrite history or the way we covered it in our pages, as we look back at these stories, we’re also looking forward.

A1 Revisited is an opportunity to interrogate our past coverage, noting where we went wrong, considering how we would cover these events differently today, and collaborating with community members and organizations, and asking critical questions. We hope taking these steps will inform our journalistic practices today as we aim for fairer, more accurate, more equitable and more inclusive coverage.

More coverage
Seattle crowds jam an overhead walk to witness mass evacuation of Japanese from Bainbridge Island, Washington, March 30, 1942. Somewhat bewildered, but not protesting, some 225 Japanese men, women and children were taken by ferry, bus and train to California internment camps. Evacuation was carried out by the army. (AP Photo)

Eighty years ago this week, the U.S. government sent Bainbridge Island’s Japanese-American residents to incarceration camps. Today we examine how The Seattle Times reported on the event.

On March 30, 1942, Japanese American residents were forcibly removed from their homes. Here’s how the Seattle Times covered it and what we do differently today.

During the transportation of Japanese Americans to the Minidoka incarceration camp, a photographer told Mitsuye Yamada and her family to smile for a photograph.

Army medical corps members assist a Bainbridge Island woman to the ferry during the mandatory evacuation of 227 people of Japanese ancestry living on Bainbridge Island on March 30, 1942. Credit: The Seattle Times Archives

Bill, here is the original caption that was attached to The Times file photo: FILE – In this April 1, 1942, file photo, U.S. Army medical corps members assist a Japanese woman in Seattle to the ferry at Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound after she collapsed during the evacuation of more than 300 Japanese from the island. The evacuees were taken by train to an inland internment site. (The Seattle Times via AP, File)

We are deeply sorry for our harmful coverage of the incarceration of Japanese Americans and for the pain we caused in the past that still reverberates today.

Mrs. Shigeho Kitamoto had no time for tears when she was evacuated along with other Japanese from Bainbridge Island in Washington State, March 30, 1942. She has too busy looking after her four children.  Corporal George Bushy, member of the military guard which supervised the departure of 237 Japanese for California, gave her a hand with the youngest.  (AP Photo)

News organizations large and small now commonly refer to what Japanese Americans in World War II experienced as “incarceration,” rather than “internment.”

Pictures of Akio Suyematsu, known as Bainbridge Island’s last Japanese farmer, Monday, March 14, 2022. The top photo is Suyematsu as a Bainbridge High School student, and the bottom one was taken later in his life by Karen Selvar, who is now the steward of the historic farmland. 219838

Suyematsu Farm wasn’t the first Japanese American farm or the largest, but Akio Suyematsu is known as the last Japanese American farmer on Bainbridge Island.

In the basement, owner of the Panama Hotel Jan Johnson, looks at historic doors at the Panama Hotel in Chinatown-International District in Seattle on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. She says that the a part of the hotel will be made into a museum that will house objects left from families from the time of Japanese internment.

The Panama Hotel — built in 1910, still serving tea — held the belongings of incarcerated Japanese Americans during WWII. The owner now hopes to create a museum.

(Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times)

Take a look inside the temporary camp at the Puyallup fairgrounds where thousands of Japanese Americans were incarcerated in 1942.

Through Tesla STEM High School junior Kai Vanderclip’s work, children’s books in regards to history of Japanese American internment was made available to 33 elementary schools in the Lake Washington School District.

Inspired by stories of his ancestors being incarcerated during World War II, Kai Vanderlip created a program to bring that history to local schools.

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial – 80th anniversary of the internment of Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans – 020322

87-year-old Lilly Kodama talks about her experiences during World War II at the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022 on Bainbridge Island, Wash. Kodama was seven when her and her family were forcibly removed from the island and sent to live at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California.   219490

Eighty years ago, Bainbridge Island was the first location for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans under the Civilian Exclusion Order.

This photograph of Fumiko Hayashida and her 1-year-old daughter Natalie, taken March 30, 1942, became a symbol of the forced evacuation of Japanese residents from Bainbridge Island. While the image became iconic, Hayashida’s identity remained a mystery for decades. Credit: Unknown Photographer / Courtesy Museum of History & Industry

The “Mystery Lady” picture has been called “one of the iconic images of the incarceration of Japanese Americans.” The woman ended up testifying before Congress.