At the Inlander, we are obligated to report the truth. Whether it's City Hall, a university or a hospital, we always strive to give readers an accurate sense of what's going on.
But you may have noticed that Inlander journalists have been conspicuously silent on one thing: the Inlander itself.
I am writing this on my last day at the Inlander, as I've taken another journalism opportunity after six years at my favorite Spokane newspaper. It's late Friday afternoon, the office is empty, and as my final act of journalistic integrity, I'm giving you the scoop on what they're not telling you about working at the Inlander.
You will get a ton of Inlander clothes. At every holiday party, there will be clothes — T-shirts, long sleeves, sweaters, you name it. At this point, half of my wardrobe consists of clothes that say "Inlander." Are they slowly planting the Inlander brand in our heads so we will be loyal forever? You tell me.
Your one bad film take can ruin your reputation forever. I once told former film editor Nathan Weinbender that I didn't really like the movie Moonlight. He never respected my film opinions again. (In my defense, I watched it on a tiny screen with my wife's aunt and uncle.)
You might get chased by guys with guns. In 2017, I went to an expo in Prosser, Wash., where a bunch of mostly right-wing "preppers" were gathered. I was hoping to get an in-person interview with Matt Shea, then a state representative from Spokane Valley who called the Inlander the "Inslander" and refused to do interviews with us.
Instead, not only did Shea decline to talk to me, but he gave a speech in which he specifically called out the Inlander for what he felt was dishonest coverage, before pointing me out to the crowd of around 100 people as I sat in the back diligently taking notes.
As soon as the speech ended, the crowd — many of them armed — turned and demanded I get out. When I briefly tried to protest, they chased me, and I ran until I was on the highway back to Spokane.
You might start to sympathize with grizzly bears. I wrote a story about grizzly bears and visited the bear research center at Washington State University, where a bear licked my hand through a fence. I now love grizzly bears and mostly think of them as big, terrifying, dopey dogs.
You may argue with your coworkers about almost everything. I can't tell you how much time I've spent arguing with my coworkers (ahem, Daniel Walters). But these arguments almost never ended badly. In fact, they often inspired the best story ideas.
You might resent the I Saw Yous. They're fun and hilarious and I get it. But there's nothing more deflating than spending hours and hours writing and reporting a massive investigative story, then, when someone learns you work at the Inlander, hearing only "oh, I love the Inlander. The I Saw Yous are so funny!"
You will find it difficult to leave. There's something about working with a small team, all dedicated to the goal of great journalism, that breeds a sense of kinship. They make you better, and you don't want to let them down. It's why instead of rushing out the door and blowing off my assignment on my last day, I'm still here, finishing up a story before I turn off the lights, and going way over my word count. ♦