An Almost-Live Seattle Blog Experience

This week I hit the road (and sky) with some classmates as we headed off to Seattle to explore the world of digital media. We’re touring over a dozen media companies and startups to hear what they do and what they are looking for in new hires.

Instead of posting a sticky piece at some random point on a Saturday this week, I’ll be keeping up with a kind-of-sort-of-live blog of what I learn, experience and think in this beautiful city.

So…what do I mean by almost/kind of sort of live? Well since I’ll be on the move throughout the most of the day I won’t be able to keep up with this blog. So at the end of each day of exploring, I’ll update this post with thoughts, photos, videos or all three. You’ll be getting the uniqueness of a live experience at a slight delay.

Since I know you’re all going to be dying to stay completely up to date, follow me on Twitter @ninaruhe for the best Seattle play by play you can get from a millennial tourist and wanna be Seattle local.

Day 4: 02/09/2017 (Written at ~11pm)

Today was our final day in the wonderful North West city of Seattle. While this city never failed to amaze me, I am ready to say goodbye to the rain and spending of money and say hello to my friends, groceries that will last me weeks and a normal sleep schedule.

This final day was not all about goodbyes, however, as we met some pretty cool people doing pretty cool things today.

Our first stop was supposed to be at Amazon, but unfortunately, they cancelled on us last minute for reasons I am unaware of. So we took the extra time in the morning to bust out some work and walk down-town to devour maple bacon donuts and Ovaltine lattes at Top Pot donuts (would 10/10 recommend).

We met back at the hotel with the rest of the group and drove to Pioneer Square where we met with the founder of Sqoop in a shared work space with a couple of other startup companies.

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A workspace shared with multiple startups is an innovation hub and serves as a networking home for entrepreneurs on Feb. 9, 2017 in Pioneer Square, Seattle. While the exposed brick and complementing hardwood floors would make you want to work in this space in a heartbeat, the space also houses an award-winning staircase that is not pictured here because I was standing next to it instead of actually photographing it.

The company makes it easier for journalists to sort through press releases to find stories and really understand what’s going on.

The biggest lesson I learned coming out of our conversation with the founder was that to be a successful entrepreneur, you really have to listen and pay attention  to what’s happening around you.

Without asking the right questions, Sqoop wouldn’t be around to help journalists today.

Lion Digital Media was next on our list of companies to hear from. I was very interested in this company before hearing them present. Why? They found a way to make big, national business localize and still turn profit.

The advertising company finds the best ways for national brands/advertisements like Nike, Honda and Subway to find profitable ways of advertising on the local level. While learning about their algorithm’s and reach in the national branding world was interesting, as a journalism student, I wish they spoke a little bit more on the content creation and thought behind ad placement for each individual client.

At the end of Lion’s presentation, we broke for lunch where a couple of us hit up food trucks in pioneer square and enjoyed a phenomenal Vietnamese rice dish.

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Across from the food trucks in Pioneer Square in Seattle on Feb. 10, 2017, a brig building covered in ivy stood collecting rain. Naturally, I wanted to pose and my awkwardness forced me to raise the roof harder than any tourist standing in front of plants you’ve ever seen.

We finished our food-truck meals and piled back in the vans to head over to an artificial intelligence startup called Ozlo.

The company demonstrated the most current version of the Siri-like bot and explained the process behind creating different cues and codes to get to what users want in a quick and easy to use way.

While Ozlo wasn’t my favorite stop on the trip, it was still cool to see how different technologies are finding ways to keep up and stay relevant in a constantly changing technological world.

Our final stop of this trip hit my favorite list. GeekWire.

The startup media company writes about all things tech and creates events to raise money, foster innovation and provide networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in different technological industries.

Within the first 10 minutes of listening to one of the co-founders explain their business model, I soon realized it was strikingly similar to the business model my first journalism gig followed…so I told them about it.

It turned out that one of the founders of GeekWire used to work with my former boss and the two companies brainstormed and bounced ideas off of each other to create two successful media startups.

Not only did the suddenly smaller world feel more like home, but it was incredible to witness how the journalism community ends up coming together no matter where things are geographically located.

Having a bit more grasp on GeekWires motives based on what I learned from previous experience, I wanted to know more about their plans for keeping a younger reader’s attention on platforms other than the internet (think instagram, FB, snapchat…basically social) and what the event creation process and new content creation looked like.

They explained that they’re always looking into figuring out how to brand themselves in an effective way on social and that planning events and new types of content is always a process in the works.

I walked out of the small space located in Fremont, Seattle feeling like I was walking out of a day of work in a familiar place with familiar people. It was really and truly an incredible experience (not quite deja vu, but very, very similar).

With that, our tours of different media companies came to a close and we were released to “play” for the rest of our evening and time in Seattle.

We stood over 600 feet above Seattle in the Space Needle (and froze by way of trying to get a good selfie in extremely strong winds), and headed to get tacos at a place featured in the Seattle Magazine we were given yesterday.

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On Feb. 10, 2017 a group of journalism students from the University of Missouri traveled over 600 feet up in the air to stand on the outdoor balcony of the Seattle Space Needle. We also took a photo in front of a terrible green screen before we took the ride up to the top and proceeded to put this obviously fake backdrop behind us.

The night concluded with a group of us going back to the Irish pub we won trivia at on Wednesday to use our $25 gift certificate reward. We chowed down on fries, potato skins, crab cakes and the best Guiness Chocolate Cake you could ever imagine for free because of our crazy-good trivia skills.

End of Day thoughts:

  1. To be successful, you need to focus in, listen and really care about what other people need and want instead of just having a mentality to make money.

  2. The world is much smaller than you think it is, and you never know who you’ll run into and how that exchange can influence your life…so always keep your head in the game and stay on your toes.

  3. Visit Seattle. No matter how much it rains, the North West city saturated with dogs wearing raincoats, trivia nights galore and people willing to help you succeed will not disappoint.

 

Next stop, Columbia, Missouri. See you in Central time.

Day 3: 02/09/2017 (Written at ~8pm)

This Thursday started off early for me compared to the rest of the group. I had an assignment due for another class that two other classmates on this trip had to complete as well.

Since the wifi at our two-star hotel is very shotty, we decided to walk 15 minutes in the rain to a coffee shop where we promptly ordered vanilla lattes and started our assignment.

After finishing up, we made our way back to the hotel and loaded up in cars that took us a little outside of the city to our first stop: Seattle Magazine.

The colorful lobby and vibrant atmosphere really helped emphasize that print isn’t dead. The faculty that spoke with our group explained that everyone’s a content creator in today’s world, so print is finding a way to stand out as professionals. The magazine’s leader said, “City magazines are aspirational,” which continues to let my mind rest at peace that print isn’t dead.

We then switched gears as we ventured over into the broadcast world at King 5 Media (after making a quick stop at Krispy Kreme, because who wouldn’t stop for a pre-lunch donut?).

While sitting and listening to the leaders talk about how the station has changed, including a physical move to a new location, and where they see the station going in the future, it seemed a lot of talk centered around trying to figure out a particular online and social presence the station wanted to take on.

A lot of talk about Facebook live, branding the anchors as a mix of professional and personality and figuring out how to exactly maximize use of all social platforms got the room talking.

It was a phenomenal opportunity to converse back and forth with people in the industry. After a couple of the station leaders pitched a question to the group, I had the opportunity to answer and that answer got me in contact with the station’s digital manager at the conclusion of our session (#networking).

We concluded our visit with a tour of the new studio, a.k.a. my new heaven (please see me sitting on my throne below).

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Sitting in King 5’s new studio in Seattle on Feb. 9, 2017. Nothing makes me happier than a clean set like this and some cool people that come with it.

After leaving King 5 we hopped back into the cars and headed over to a data visualization company, Tableau.

We were shown a presentation about how journalists can take a complex, indigestible spreadsheet, put it into this software and come out with beautiful, easy to understand graphic that serves as a teller of truth and visual aid to any story involving data.

I lost count of the amount of times my jaw dropped during this presentation.

All last semester I took a reporting class where we were constantly confronted with data and had to figure out a way to turn it into a work of art that helps progress or tell a bigger story.

Seeing the presentation and throwing questions and concerns back and forth with their team got me hyped about data and what visuals can do for journalists and their stories.

I can’t wait to get back to school and tell my reporting professors to force the current class to use this software to enhance their stories and teach them how to create content that matters while is simultaneously visually appealing.

Tableau acted like they had a startup mentality. They are always open to changing and figuring out new ways for their product to improve and grow. It was incredibly impressive, in my journalist and job-seeking opinion.

Tableau was the final newsroom destination, so we had the afternoon to explore. Myself and a group of four others hiked up a massive hill to see the Fremont Troll and walked back down the hill to see the water and city line.

End of day thoughts:

  1. Data journalism and exploring the digital world are important up and coming industries for truth telling and story telling

  2. Collaboration and communication between departments and the community help foster growth and create more trust

  3. Beecher’s Mac & Cheese at Pikes Place is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten in my entire life

  4. The Fremont Troll is worth the back-breaking hike under a bridge

To close off this fine, unusually sunny Thursday in Seattle, a group of us 21 and overs plan on hitting up a secret bar where Nirvana apparently recorded in their early days…shoutout to our waitress from the Irish Pub we hit up last night for the tip.

Day 2: 02/08/2017 (Written ~11pm)

Despite walking over eight miles in the constant rain…today was amazing. The day started at the Seattle Times where we had the opportunity to sit in on a morning meeting, learn about content, the newsroom and different marketing strategies the company uses to keep up to date on everything an everyone.

Rain coats were thrown back on and zipped up as we moved to Crosscut Digital Media for stop #2 of the day.

The used to be for-profit turned non-profit digital media company provided an interesting and apparently effective business model. The company essentially let’s the big name media companies jump on all sorts of news, especially national, while they focus on more  community engagement, feature stories and in-depth reporting.

So while protests are popping up all over the country in opposition to the new presidency, Crosscut representatives told us they didn’t want to brand themselves as the “protest channel.” I think this is a very smart move, especially for a local readership.

This idea of thinking and waiting before calling out another one of Trump’s tweets or decisions helps the press avoid becoming the “opposition party” I spoke about last week.

After chewing on the mental feast Crosscut presented us with, we stopped to get pizza to actually feast and fuel the rest of our day. Zeek’s local pizza place and a quick stop at a coffee shop (because what else would you drink in Seattle except coffee?) gave us the energy boost we needed before walking into the Seattle Post Intelligencer newsroom.

While the PI wasn’t exactly the Times, it had it’s own unique feel and vibe to it. The publication is digital first and has a smaller staff, but still connects with it’s audiences and produces quality content.

The last stop on the newsroom tour for the day was Amazon…which was just as amazing as you’d think it would be.

We learned about the technology behind the Amazon Echo, otherwise known as Alexa to most users. The cloud is used in the cylindrical speaker system and allows users to make purchases from Amazon, play music, hear tailored news and other things just by asking the machine to do it.

Picking a representative’s brain for a little over an hour led me to really understanding how quickly and intensely the world of technology is changing and that now, more than ever before, journalists need to stay on top of everything to succeed.

A few of us wrapped our night up with a rainy stroll through a deserted and mostly-closed Pikes Place Market, a much needed dinner of burger and fries and trivia in an Irish pub on the pier all washed down with a spiked hot chocolate.

End of day thoughts:

  1. Print journalism is very much alive and I’m interested in seeing the direction different organizations go

  2. Digital journalism is a space where everything is constantly up in the air and is continuing to grow and develop as technology does

  3. I’m slowly beginning to see my future self working in the business and journalism industries simultaneously

  4. Spiked hot chocolate in an Irish pub on the ocean after a day of walking in the cold rain is an amazing experience and would 10/10 recommend.

To close off my second day in Seattle, take a little peek at my journey in this tech-savvy and rain soaked city.

Day 1: 02/7/2017 (Written ~10pm)

We departed from Columbia on a shuttle and headed off to the Kansas City airport.

After feasting on some sandwiches and chugging liquids before TSA could confiscate them, we were on board for a roughly four-hour plane ride to the North West.

Upon landing, we grabbed a taxi to our two-star, but just right, hotel room to freshen up.

After much needed bathroom breaks and a quick google search using shotty wifi, a handful of us navigated ourselves to an amazing dive bar that serves amazing breakfast 24/7.

With bellies full of Monte Cristos, we hiked down to Pier 70 and soaked in the pacific air while looking back at the Space Needle.

Eventually, after much jay-walking and coughing and puffing up hills in my Steve Madden’s, we made it back to the hotel…and here we are.

Stay tuned, I’ll be back tomorrow. But don’t worry, I’ll leave you with this beautiful photo of the Seattle skyline taken down by the bay.

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Feb. 7, 2017: Partial Seattle, WA skyline captured by Olympic Park and Pier 70.

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