The first encounter with Justin Carder that I can remember was during the 2016 State of the Hill. We had a brief waiting-for-the-bus style conversation before the opening remarks, and then went to work on our respective coverage.
When the speechifying was done, I shuffled around the venue space, still not very familiar with Capitol Hill and its many movers and shakers.
On one of my awkward passes around the room, Justin stopped chatting to a group of women to ask me some hard-hitting questions of journalistic importance, such as, “Why are you killing so many trees?” Since I was relatively new to the paper, Justin did me the courtesy of informing me that people don’t read the Capitol Hill Times. No, they just step right over it; he has since modified his opinion that the paper does serve a purpose by way of pillows for the homeless.
Wait: This actually isn’t the first run-in with Justin Carder that I can remember.
It was the VIP/media event for the opening of Italian restaurant Ernest Loves Agnes back in September 2015. I remember asking him how long he’d been running CHS, and he told me it had been “about eight or nine Capitol Hill Times editors ago.” Note: He started it a decade ago with then-wife Kristin Boraas Carder.
While I messed up the chronology of those memorable meetings, I remember walking away from them both thinking, “Who the f$@% does this guy think he is?”
He’s the guy with 47,000 Twitter followers and more than a million blog visits annually, and who’s been scavenging Capitol Hill news since 2007, much like the iconic crow logo that represents CHS.
I could point to our masthead that says the Capitol Hill Times has been serving the neighborhood since 1926, but that has been in so many fashions over the past 91 years. The past 10 years have belonged to the crow.
So, it’s not surprising that a territorial blogger, with that kind of investment in his neighborhood, would adopt the traits of his winged doppelgänger and swoop down every so often to peck at perceived interlopers. Sometimes more frequently than seemed healthy, but that’s just me.
Now, as Justin Carder finishes out his last week running CHS for a while, I can say that Capitol Hill and much of central Seattle is losing an institutional news source, and, competitive feather ruffling aside, I’m not pleased about the gap that leaves.
I always felt there was enough news to go around; that it was to Capitol Hill’s benefit to have multiple news outlets focused on it. I still do.
Justin Carder is taking a much-deserved break — his 2017 “walkabout” — and when he decides to come back, it will be to Capitol Hill’s benefit, and that’s what’s important.
And he isn’t disappearing. As far as I know, he isn’t moving off the Hill. There will still be plenty of opportunities for him to get in a good pecking every now and then.