Meet the Media: SEAtoday

Welcome to another edition of Fearey’s Meet the Media series! Today, we are featuring two distinguished journalists from SEAtoday, a Seattle-based digital news platform known for delivering hyper-local content to its dedicated readership. We have with us Alina Hunter-Grah, a seasoned journalist who discovered her love for storytelling in high school and followed her passion all the way to Seattle. We also have Gabe Guarente, a New York native turned Seattle enthusiast who brings a fresh perspective from his diverse background in print journalism and food writing. They both found their place at SEAtoday, sharing a common mission of helping readers connect with their city through engaging, local-centric content. Join us as they delve into their journalistic journeys. 

Headshots for Alina Hunter-Grah and Gabe Guarente of SEAtoday

How did you become involved in the field of journalism, and what led you to SEAtoday specifically?  

Alina: My love for journalism deepened back in high school when my English teacher put me on the yearbook team against my will! Fortunately, I found such joy in telling people’s stories and documenting events. My love for journalism deepened when I joined the student newspaper in college and it was there that I realized the importance of communication and telling stories. After college, I began working at a local newspaper, focusing on government reporting. Coincidentally, the newspaper I worked for was bought by 6AM City, the company I work for now. I even got to have a cool experience meeting the CEO early on. When I moved to Seattle and noticed they were launching a branch, I seized the opportunity and hit the ground running. 

Gabe: I am originally from the East Coast and began my career as a journalist in New York. I worked for a variety of print magazines, from entertainment publications to sports websites. After moving to Seattle, I started working for Eater Seattle which is a food publication as you might guess. After a couple of years in food writing, I noticed that 6AM City was about to launch a new market in Seattle and jumped on the opportunity.  

What is the primary mission and focus of SEAtoday? How do you differentiate your platform from other news sources?

Speaking about SEAtoday, our primary mission is to deliver hyper-local content to an engaged audience every weekday at 6 a.m. We aim to educate and activate our readers about what’s going on in our market, Seattle. What sets us apart is that we lead with lifestyle and avoid politics and controversial topics as much as possible. We strive to help our readers fall in love with their city and are passionate about fostering a sense of community. 

Can you walk us through the editorial process at SEAtoday? How do you ensure the quality and accuracy of the content published on the website?

As for our editorial process at SEAtoday, we have full control over the editorial content. We both have a set number of newsletters every month and alternate day-to-day. We fill out a calendar a month in advance, which allows us to ensure the quality and accuracy of our content. We are also able to edit our calendar if we feel as if there is something that should be reported on in the moment. Being fully invested in Seattle and its news is crucial to having a good understanding of what our readers want to read. We also can figure out what our readers are interested in based on click rates and other metrics. We pay close attention to what people say in their market surveys and are very careful about our sources, always checking to ensure their accuracy. 

How do you stay updated on the latest trends and best practices in journalism? What sources or professional networks do you rely on?

Having a network of other 6AM City publications with over 70 staff doing the exact same thing we’re doing makes it easy for us to bounce ideas off of each other and see what works and what doesn’t. Locally, we are constantly paying attention to what other publications are publishing and how consumers are reacting to it. 

What advice would you give to aspiring journalists or editors looking to enter the field?

Alina: Get in the industry and start writing whether that’s through a local newspaper or your own website. Creating content is the best way to learn because the more content you write, the better you will become. Also, finding a journalist you look up to and getting them to look at your work and give you feedback can be instrumental in progressing your career. 

Gabe: Trying to stay local and break into the industry that way is a good idea. A lot of local publications are looking for writers of all ages to give their perspectives on events and other news. Follow the journalists you admire on social media and stay up to date with what they are writing about and their techniques. Reach out to them and see if they are up for getting a cup of coffee, you never know who will say yes. Also, make sure you love what you are doing… I didn’t get into journalism for the money! 

Do you have any tips for PR pros pitching SEAtoday story ideas? 

It’s important to pay attention to the types of content we produce and ensure it aligns with what we report on. Including photos, even if they are stock images, is incredibly helpful for us to get a visual representation of what you are pitching. Building a relationship with us can be very beneficial too because if you have future pitches we might be interested in, chances are you will be more successful in getting our attention. Sending follow-up emails also helps us see potential pitches that we might have missed if we had a busy day!  

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

Alina: I love the learning I am able to do on a variety of different intriguing topics. I also love getting to meet interesting people. For example, I got to interview an expert on crows from the University of Washington which I found completely fascinating.  

Gabe: Not being from Seattle, I love exploring the city and the different restaurants it has to offer. I also enjoy talking and meeting with small business owners and learning about their experiences operating a small business in Seattle.

Quick Fire Questions:

  1. If I am not working, I am…
    1. Alina: Taking a walk by the beach looking at rocks
    2. Gabe: Watching sports
  2. If I could interview anyone, it would be…
    1. Alina: The receptionist at the White House
    2. Gabe: Bruce Springsteen
  3. The last book I read was… 
    1. Alina: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
    2. Gabe: The Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
  4. My favorite restaurant in Seattle is… 
    1. Alina: Lucky’s Pho and Umi Sake House in Belltown
    2. Gabe: Musang in Beacon Hill

Interested in sharing your work through our Meet the Media series? Email us here.