After a week’s worth of tossing around alternatives for a title for business and work columnist Frank Catalano’s new gig — some of which were pretty good, others funny and punny but imperfect (“Frankly Business” was on the table for a moment) — it’s the name we ultimately seized upon for our new business and work column, making its Cascadia Daily News debut today.
It works two ways: Business Matters is a label for some of the content that will appear in the weekly news column written by experienced journalist and broadcaster Frank Catalano, who has joined CDN’s staff as a sort of super-contributor. But it’s also a reflection of our intentions. In a capitalist economy through which all of us establish our station in life, business and work truly do matter.
We’ve always acknowledged that here, and in the brief window since our January launch, have been looking for the proper voice to speak to those matters in our pages. I’m happy, in this instance, that we took our time to find someone to pick up the tale of this old timber/fish region wandering around in search of a new economic path.
Like many others in our midst, including myself (albeit now more than two decades ago), Catalano is a recent immigrant from a large, shoddily managed, Space-Needled enterprise about 90 miles (and 2.5 hours, most days) to our south. When he rolled into town as a new resident this winter and made contact, his most serious concern about taking up the business/work writing role for us was that very newness: He’s not an expert on Whatcom County’s economy.
I saw it as more of an advantage. Knowing Frank’s reputation, and watching his inquiring mind at work, I was confident he soon will be. But the latter quality, I believe, is a distinct advantage for his role for two reasons.
Like many of us, he will look at the economy and work-life of northwest Washington with fresh, probing eyes. That’s a built-in excuse to ask a lot of the sort of questions that sometimes prompt revealing responses — queries that longtime, granola-crunched residents long ago stopped asking.
In that sense, Catalano serves, in a sense, as a stand-in for a very large percentage of our populace that qualifies as recently arrived. We are a community of deeply-buried clams, clinging barnacles and fresh, floating spores, competing for the same nutrients in a common tidepool. That creates no shortage of journalistic possibilities.
We’re launching our local business and work coverage with a specific mission: Chronicle what we’re doing here to make a living, what we’re producing, selling, trading and even eschewing. Highlight the things about our local make-work life that are unique, and reflective of the way we all like to see ourselves as a people — or in some cases, no longer fitting with that self-image. Beyond that, tell us what’s opening/closing, what our business and work trends look like and how these needs might best mesh with public policy and other vital matters.
At CDN, we like to see ourselves as a consumer-oriented publication — a step-up stand-in between average folks and local government and various institutions. That includes our workplaces, which everyone acknowledges are in a state of post-pandemic flux. (Catalano has long personal experience with the reality that for an increasing number of us, the “workplace” can be a kitchen table or IKEA desk and a freelance contract.)
That’s why we hope our coverage brings into closer focus both modern means of production and the impacts on producers regularly entangled in it. We live in an age of dueling realities of artificial intelligence (it just corrected a verb tense disagreement in this sentence) and budding unionism that will redefine “work” as we have always known it. For better or worse, a range of super-collider-worthy collisions seems inevitable.
That’s a big task for a journalist, but Catalano arrives with all the right tools for the job. As his bio indicates, Frank was a key player in the business/tech journalistic startup GeekWire. He’s reported and written for an array of Puget Sound-area enterprises, including Puget Sound Business Journal, the late Seattle Weekly/Eastsideweek and KCPQ-TV. Further, he’s been active in the tech sector himself, as an executive and entrepreneurial journalist in the field of education technology.
Beyond all that, he brings intangibles I hope readers will find refreshing: He’s upfront about his newbie status, has a healthy life perspective and sense of humor, and wants very badly to fit in as a constructive community member, whether that community is a newsroom of a dozen folks or a growing, fascinating, upper lefthand corner of a country in an interesting state of transition.
We’re excited to publish his column, but also share his belief that to succeed, it must be an interactive exercise. As he indicates in his debut column, Catalano has an open door for tips, ideas, questions and advice. Trust me: He doesn’t seem to sleep much, and once he takes on a project, it’s with all four limbs, a probing mind and the sort of tech-savvy required to deliver the goods quickly and concisely.
We hope readers will soon come to appreciate the new directions his work leads CDN — which, it should be noted, today has expanded its “A” section to accommodate the additional coverage. It’s another small but important example of our commitment to our community as an independent news voice.
Ron Judd's column appears weekly. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: roncjudd.