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Understanding the Tech Industry’s Impact on Seattle Media

Annie Gudorf

As Amazon and Microsoft established dominance in Seattle through the 2000s and 2010s, the city was poised to become a major tech player. Microsoft and Amazon’s success has resulted in many employees leaving to start their own ventures, building a robust startup network within the Pacific Northwest. As a result, Seattle has become one of the nation’s largest tech hubs. Seattle-based startups reached a record $3.59 billion in capital funding in 2019.

With this shift came a shift in journalism, too. Tech has become a thriving beat among new media, local and national journalists based in the Pacific Northwest, and many national outlets have opened up Seattle Bureaus to be closer to the area’s top tech companies.

On both a national and local level, the tech scene has transformed media in the region. From new publications and expanded news desks, we’ll dive into how Seattle’s emergence as a tech hub has impacted the city’s national and local media presence.

New Media

The area’s tech industry growth led to the emergence of new publications to keep up with the vibrant news cycle. In 2011, GeekWire launched to cover tech’s impact on the PNW and has become the go-to outlet for the region's tech and business news.

GeekWire has also been a solid source for COVID-19 news in Seattle by keeping a close eye on the health of Seattle’s residents and businesses. As one of the first communities to be hit hard with the virus, reporters Taylor Soper and Monica Nicklesburg were some of the first to cover the direct impact the virus had on local communities.

Nicklesburg shared over email that having a familiar media source is important when the public feels vulnerable. “It’s hard to overstate the impact the coronavirus crisis has had on GeekWire and the media industry generally. We saw the highest traffic we’ve ever had in the first month of the pandemic, by far,” Nicklesburg said. “There is a lot of fear and disinformation floating around, so readers are turning to news outlets they trust.”

Local Media

Long-standing local publications like The Seattle Times and Puget Sound Business Journal are forces to be reckoned with in the region. Many of tech’s most influential journalists got their start in local media and have proven the value of understanding how the tech industry shaped the current landscape of the PNW.

In May, The Seattle Times was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the national reporting of the deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes. Local journalism in the Northwest is top-notch and regularly receives national recognition.

National Media

Recently, national business outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post have expanded their reporting teams in Seattle to cover the tech industry, its influence on the tech community and the region’s nonstop news. But reporting in this region doesn’t happen overnight. Take Jay Greene for example: The veteran tech journalist currently covers technology in the Pacific Northwest for The Washington Post. Before that, he spent a decade as BusinessWeek’s Seattle Bureau Chief and had covered Microsoft and Amazon from the early days for The Seattle Times. Jay has spent his career living and breathing PNW tech and is a well-regarded journalist because of his deep understanding of the region and the tech companies that call it home.

Led by Dina Bass, a decades-long Microsoft reporter, Bloomberg has also increased their Seattle-based staff. Matt Day currently covers Amazon in Seattle for Bloomberg after covering Amazon’s rise to power for The Seattle Times for many years.

Business Insider took note and hired Ashley Stewart away from the Puget Sound Business Journal to cover Microsoft, Amazon and AWS. Her deep expertise on enterprise technology and the business landscape in the region made her a prime candidate to drive Business Insider’s coverage in that beat.

Now Seattle, like the rest of the world, faces a new challenge – striking a balance between covering the global pandemic and understanding how the region’s tech scene will be impacted by the current economic hurdles. In May, Amazon, quickly followed by Microsoft, announced that employees could work from home through October 2020. These major tech companies have the unique power to define the new normal for the region and tech more broadly, and the media will be keeping a close eye on them and others to determine what’s next for the region.

Media in Seattle is changing constantly, and Walker Sands is here to help you navigate these complex times. Learn more about our PR services and contact our team here.