This is the fifth in a series of regular posts introducing you to the journalists who bring you the news.
“Let’s talk politics.”
Together, Brunner and Beekman write nearly a dozen articles a week on city, county and state government. Lately, they’ve been focused on Seattle’s mayoral race and — in collaboration with reporter Lewis Kamb — the resignation of Mayor Ed Murray.
On The Overcast, you get to hear the stories behind these projects and others, as told by newsmakers and the journalists who cover them. Recently, Beekman and Brunner chatted with editor Lynn Jacobson about how their partnership operates. Here’s an excerpt:
Jim Brunner: This year, we’ve worked a lot together because of the mayor’s race and the podcast. We sit next to each other, so we’re always talking about stories.
Dan Beekman: I ask Jim’s advice a lot, because he’s been doing political reporting for a long time, and he knows the people and the issues. So I ask his opinion…
Jim: And then we argue. [Laughs.]
Lynn Jacobson: What do you argue about?
Jim: Oh, whatever. We’re just sometimes, like, “No I don’t think that’s the story.”
Lynn: Where did the idea of the podcast come from?
Jim: We had both been thinking separately about the concept of a podcast. Dan had been thinking along the lines of talking with reporters and people in the newsroom. … And I was thinking it might be another place to interview newsmakers or politicians or people from behind the scenes. We pitched it as a startup, mostly just to keep editors from interfering in it. [Laughs.] But really, it’s part of the culture here: Let’s try some things and if they fail, that’s OK, as long as they don’t fail too spectacularly.
Dan: Sometime in September, we passed our one-year mark.
Jim: We started out with just a portable digital recorder that was lying around and two cheap dented mics in (Metro editor) Matt Kreamer’s office, so there was kind of an echoey thing going on. You know, we’re newspaper reporters and not audio experts, so we were constantly learning as we went and editing it ourselves. We’ve progressed. Now we have a partnership with KNKX – Simone Alicea, a reporter there, said, “I really like the idea and some of the content, but the audio quality is really distracting.” Now we record at KNKX studio in Belltown, and she helps us sound much better.
Lynn: Talk a little about the programming.
Jim: We try to look for things that are in the news around the time of the podcast. We’ve had mini debates on things like safe injection sites.
Politics podcastAre you a politics junkie? Just want to keep up with what’s going on in government? Don’t miss The Overcast, our politics team’s weekly podcast. Subscribe on iTunes, TuneIn or via RSS. Find and listen to past episodes here.
Dan: We had a congressional debate …
Jim: Yeah, we had Brady Walkinshaw and Pramila Jayapal.
Lynn: And your colleagues?
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Jim: It’s been really fun to interview them. We’ve had environmental reporter Lynda Mapes on a couple of times and she’s been super passionate about the things she covers, super knowledgeable, able to speak about things in a really compelling way.
Dan: When she came on to talk about Standing Rock, when all that went down … she was the only mainstream reporter there at the time (with Seattle Times photographer Alan Berner), and listeners were really blown away by hearing that firsthand experience from somebody who was on the ground as a reporter in the middle of that chaos.
Jim: We’ve been getting pretty good feedback from listeners on shows like that. The other day I was emailing with a professor at Western Washington University, and he called The Overcast the most influential public affairs and politics podcast in the area.
Dan: It’s the only one. [Laughs.]
Lynn: Which reporter in the newsroom has the best radio voice?
Dan: Vernal Coleman, who writes about homelessness. He’s got a good, deep voice.
Jim: Certainly not me or Dan. … I’ve become self-conscious about my breathing. And Dan’s an “ummer,” but he’s gotten better.
Dan: I just edit out the “ums.”
Lynn: What else do you edit out?
Jim: Lip smacking. [Laughs.]
Lynn: What more do you want people to know about the podcast, or about your reporting?
Dan: Or if you want to sponsor the podcast, let us know!
Jim: I use a particular kind of pen that I buy, the Uniball Signo UM-151, black, and I would really like the Uniball company to sponsor us. They’re really good pens.
NOTABLE WORKS BY JIM BRUNNER
Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation hours after a fifth accuser, a cousin, said Murray molested him when the cousin was a teen. Murray maintains he has never abused anyone. (Sept. 12, 2017)
Rep. Dave Reichert’s decision to retire from Congress has immediately shifted Washington’s 8th District into one of the most competitive races of the 2018 midterms, according to political analysts. (Sept. 6, 2017)
Should political consultants be allowed to lobby city officials they helped elect? David Mendoza, an aide to former mayor Ed Murray, wants the practice banned, saying he’s seen evidence of possible conflicts of interest. (Oct. 23, 2017)
Cary Moon: Urbanist, waterfront activist touts vision for city, faces questions about résumé, accomplishments
Seattle mayoral candidate Cary Moon has won praise as an articulate urbanist and activist who crusaded against Seattle’s waterfront tunnel. But a look at her professional and civic life shows sparse management experience. (Oct. 15, 2017)
NOTABLE WORKS BY DAN BEEKMAN
Jenny Durkan, Cary Moon square off in Seattle mayoral debate overshadowed by Ed Murray’s resignation
The “Changing Seattle” was the first major clash between the candidates for mayor in the Nov. 7 general election, and was supposed to spotlight issues related to growth, affordable housing and homelessness. (Sept. 12, 2017)
The appointment, which will run through Nov. 28, means a self-described community builder, who rallied with other activists at City Hall against an expensive new North Precinct police station and a new King County youth jail, will have a role in shaping the 2018 city budget. (Oct. 6, 2017)
The rising cost of housing is a dominant issue in Seattle’s mayoral election, but political messaging – on trust, results and leadership – could also move voters in the race between Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon. (Oct. 22, 2017)
Does accepting campaign contributions from lawyers at firms with city contracts suggest a culture of pay to play? Use of outside counsel is a flashpoint in the Seattle city attorney race. (Oct. 7, 2017)
With the typical monthly cost proposed to rise to $250 a month in 2023, a watchdog panel has concerns about affordability and transparency. (Sept. 10, 2017)
Want to learn more about your favorite Seattle Times reporter? Write to Deputy Managing Editor Lynn Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org.