When I sat down to write this column, the phrase that came to mind was, “New face, same as the old face.”
I was a staff writer at Real Change for more than four years, delving into public policy, social justice issues and — whenever my editors would let me get away with it — esoteric topics like voting stickers.
It is surreal to be back. Editor Lee Nacozy helmed the paper admirably for nearly two years. I am now in an interim role to make sure the week’s issue gets out and that the product our vendors sell continues to add value to the local media landscape.
That’s not easy in Seattle.
The South Seattle Emerald, Converge Media, PubliCola, Crosscut, the Capitol Hill Blog and the Seattle Times all do an incredible job informing readers about their city and the people who live in it. My hope is that Real Change can continue to be part of that illustrious coterie by bringing something that no one else can — the voices of our vendors.
The vendors are the lifeblood of Real Change. They are the public faces of the paper, but they’re also the inspiration, the reason that we are here. They guide us through their experience and their advocacy, and to them we are accountable.
For those wondering what it means to do “advocacy journalism,” I admit I don’t know. I grew up in hard news. I came to Real Change as a writer because I wanted to interrogate the policies that created homelessness — because yes, policy did, and I believe that good policy can dig us out.
What some people think of as advocacy journalism I think of as the work I’ve always done. I have always looked at people in power and questioned. My reporting has had substantial impacts in the communities in which I have reported. I back up my stories with facts, evidence and interviews that absolutely no one likes.
That is what I will continue to bring to Real Change.
This is hardly the first time that the paper has changed editorial hands. But while people may come and go, the mission remains the same — building community between what were once unlikely friends and allies through information and, most importantly, interaction.
That second piece, interaction, became harder during the pandemic. We all lost something of ourselves when we retreated from others in the interest of our wellbeing and that of our loved ones.
But from what I’ve seen, even in the midst of disaster, you did not forget Real Change and you did not forget your vendors.
We’re in a new world now. With the vaccine, our society turned a corner. And in this new reality, Real Change vendors have been out there, selling the paper safely. You, dear readers, have supported them.
I thank you, and I hope that I can maintain the paper at the standard that you and the vendors deserve.
My first day back at Real Change was a homecoming. I adore my colleagues, new and old. They are here with one driving mission — to make the world a better place for the housed and unhoused and especially for Real Change vendors.
The newsroom is lucky to have Henry Behrens, our art director. They are talented, professional and quite the thespian! They coordinate the look and feel of the paper, from the covers to the book reviews. I do not know what I would do without them.
We are fortunate to have talented and dedicated volunteers who help us with articles, puzzle pages and book reviews. One part of Nacozy’s legacy will be the depth of the partnerships that she helped to create with the International Examiner and South Seattle Emerald that expanded the audience for our work.
Together, we can support one another and our community. That is the beauty of local journalism.
In closing, this is my promise to you, for as long as I’m in this office: Real Change is here for those who feel unheard. Real Change is here for those in need. Real Change is here for those who want to learn.
Real Change is here for you.
Ashley Archibald is a freelance journalist and former Real Change staff reporter. Her work can be found in the South Seattle Emerald, KNKX and the Urbanist.
Read more of the Oct. 13-19, 2021 issue.