KYRS’s Barbara Baumgarten’s 2006 interview with Tim Connor about Journalism, River Park Square, and Spokane.
Eight years ago, fresh off the River Park Square investigation, I was a guest on Barbara Baumgarten’s “Local Heroes” program at KYRS and this is the recording of that interview.
It was a bittersweet time. Along with my Camas Magazine editors and broadcast partner, KXLY’s Tom Grant, we’d won an armload of national journalism awards. And then we had to either leave town, as Grant did, or find other work. At the time, I had just published the last of my River Park Square investigative reporting in Seattle-based magazine entitled Trouble in River City.
“Why do you stay then?” I remember her asking me. The answer I offer in the interview is, of course, a good part of why the Rhubarb Skies project now exists. Anyway, I hope you’ll find it an interesting artifact, including the stories from Panama about my first experiences trying to do unwelcome journalism in company towns.
Here’s an excerpt, picking up on the above question:
Barbara: Why do you stay then? So why wouldn’t you move somewhere else and do your work?
Me: Well, I have family here. Both my parents and my wife’s mother live here now, my kids are growing up here and going to school here. I have always loved Spokane for reasons that have nothing to do with its journalism. I love it for the same reason the fur trading companies had difficulty getting people out of Spokane a hundred twenty years ago, after they moved here. Because they just liked the natural setting. I was born in eastern Washington. I just like it here.
Barbara: You say you love your work. What is it you love most about it. What’s the most meaningful part of your work, for you?
Me: As a journalist, I like what journalists do. There are several levels of what it means to do journalism. Some of it we’re taught at the earliest, rudimentary stage how to cover a burglary or how to cover a car crash. One of my first stories was to cover Mount St. Helens. I was in Ellensburg on my first newspaper job when the mountain blew, running around in a dust cloud with the sheriff, seeing people in distress, writing stories, taking pictures. There are some people who are just born to love that sort of thing. I’ve always been drawn to investigative reporting because I’ve had mentors who’ve really instilled in me that the best journalism you can do is to get at the truths that the powerful want to keep from the people. Again, that goes back to being influenced by Watergate. I guess I’m also attracted to it because it’s difficult, and it really requires focus and balance, adrenalin…”
Barbara: Is that what makes it difficult?
Me: Well, the adrenalin makes it easier.