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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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July 9, 2008 10:48 AM

Another political scribe leaves the biz

Posted by David Postman

The Columbian’s Gregg Herrington has taken early retirement from the paper. He sent an e-mail to friends and colleagues this morning explaining why he was leaving after almost 33 years as the political brain of southwest Washington.

The paper had a mild round of layoffs in late winter, but now more serious cutbacks are upon us, in both personnel and the number of pages and sections in the newspaper itself. My own area, the "Opinion' pages, will drop from two pages a day to one, beginning Wednesday, July 9. The number of staff-written editorials (I have been one of two editorial writers) is dropping from two a day to one. The handwriting was on the wall for me, so I accepted an "early retirement incentive" that was offered to the most senior employees. I will work through mid-August. Others are being laid off this week. Naturally I am sad about leaving The Columbian under these circumstances. It certainly isn't the way I figured I'd depart. Moreover, I'm sad for The Columbian and newspapers in general and for the country, whose citizens are increasingly content to get their information from openly biased sources in talk radio, cable TV, narrowly focused Internet pages and blogs -- or from nowhere at all.

Herrington is looking for his next job. I know how hard it is for a veteran journalist to leave the trade. As an acquaintance told me, “Journalists always think that’s who they are, but it’s just what they do.”

Enough veteran political reporters have left their jobs recently that it qualifies as a trend. The AP’s Dave Ammons went to work for Secretary of State Sam Reed; KING 5’s Robert Mak to Mayor Greg Nickels’ staff; The Herald’s longtime Everett political reporter Jim Haley retired; the P-I”s Neil Modie retired earlier this year and The Stranger's Josh Feit gave up his job to do something new.

I read about Herrington long before I ever met him. He makes a cameo in The Boys on the Bus, the best campaign trail book ever written. That made Herrington a bit of a celebrity in my eyes when I was told he was the same Gregg as the "young AP backup man" mentioned by Timothy Crouse. (The book is largely responsible for me getting into this business, but I don't blame Crouse, or Herrington for that.)

Herrington told his friends today:

I eagerly await the Second Coming of American newsrooms such as The Columbian's where dedicated and professional news reporters and editors trying their damnedest to present the news straight transition increasingly to the Web.

Hey Gregg, let me know when you see that coming.

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