Pat's View: Ink stains
By Patrick Robinson
Some of my earliest memories are of the smell of ink.
My father, Jerry Robinson worked for a newspaper and when I was just six months old he bought one.
Not because he was rich. He wasn’t. He had four boys and we lived in a modest home up by Top Hat east of White Center. He was smart though and incredibly hard working. He convinced the owner of the paper that he was trustworthy and John Muller made him an offer. He’d sell him the White Center News by letting him pay it off over time.
Thus the course of my life was set. Certainly it has been shaped by many things but the core themes of words, images, stories, the relationships found only in communities and yes the smell of ink are echoing for me now.
All my brothers worked at the paper learning every part of the business. We took pictures, wrote stories, sold ads, did interviews, went to meetings, dreamt up promotions, and served as junior ambassadors for our father.
Everybody knew Jerry. Everyone loved Jerry. He was a nearly perfect newsman. Friendly, inquisitive, easy going, an excellent writer, convincing salesman, and a wonderful photographer. He gave all his boys, parts of those talents and expected us to develop them pretty much on our own after he set us on course.
He built the business from a small community paper into a regional powerhouse. He cofounded the Federal Way News and it was publishing three times a week in its heyday. He bought the West Seattle Herald in 1974 and the Highline Times a few years later. With hundreds of employees and wide respect he was named President of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.
Jerry Robinson brought the first Web Offset Press to the west coast in 1957. He brought in FAX machines (believe it or not from Exxon) to speed up ad production. He invested in what was called cold type instead of lead typesetting. He introduced Optical Character recognition machines to newspaper production in Seattle. And in 1986 in an offshoot of the company called Digital Post and Graphics, through his commitment to innovation we had the very first all digital video and audio production facility on earth in downtown Seattle. I know because I worked there. That company went on to win several Emmy awards and worked with many national television companies.
Through all this change though, he never forgot the importance of the paper. What it meant to so many to be “in the paper”, what it still means to see your name in print, even though many will never know that feeling.
He was an eternal optimist and always said, “A community needs a paper” since he knew the identity people shared through the existence of a physical object that represented the community.
So, I must say.
It is among the most heartbreaking experiences of my life to see the newspaper come to an end. The final printed issue is April 30.
It’s more than the end of an era. It’s a bit like saying good bye to my father all over again.
A victim of changing technology, the arrival of many forms of competition for advertising dollars, and very hard working competitors, not to mention changing tastes, attention spans and simply the pace of society… it was inevitable for it to go.
But when you have the smell of ink so deeply imprinted in your memory that it is like an extra letter in your DNA, it’s extremely hard to face.
Patrick, I am so sorry. You gift us every day with your photos that brighten our lives. Many decades ago, I was an editor of our college newspaper, and we struggled hard to keep it alive, so I feel a bit of your struggle. Please stay strong, and keep taking and sharing those photos of our beautiful West Seattle home. Thank you for all that you do, and have done.
Thank you and your family for your invaluable service to our community. The news, happy or sad, was much appreciated and always accurate and useful.
Pat, The West Seattle Herald was such a part of our home there when I was growing up. We absorbed the local news that was special to our unique demographic....Therefore, your father (as well as you and your family) was a part of our family. I'm sorry to see this curtain draw closed my friend...Keep us enlightened about West Seattle througn your pictures and words on the web.
I'm sad to learn of the passing of the West Seattle Herald. My job as editor of the WSH in the early 1990s introduced me to the community where my dad grew up. It capped a 25-year career in journalism. It was not my last paper
China Daily was, but polishing stories written in English by Chinese reporters for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not journalism as we know it. The pay was lousy, but the experience was priceless. As was my year at the Herald.
Sorry to hear
Pat, It was a real privilege to get to know Jerry and the Robinson family over these years. A sad day to hear of the end of the papers. It is a bit like saying goodbye to Jerry for one last time. The Robinson papers were a test of the community spirit at times, and that smile that Jerry always had on his face was a reassuring factor that all was well with the world.
Being a friend of yours and having you be a huge part of my online community, the West Seattle Connection...
I feel great sorrow fo you and your family.
It’s truly a sad ending to small newspapers, pretty much everywhere these days, with the Internet.
But the Internet has its downfalls when it comes to media.
My father started his apprenticeship with the West Seattle Herald and ended up working for the Seattle Times for 37 years.
I also started my first job with being a paperboy for the West Seattle Herald.
It taught me how to save money and have a good work ethic.
I was able to buy my first car at 14 years old.
And my Mother never missed reading an issue, til she passed away in 1999, she really enjoyed it.
So on behalf of the Read family, this is truly a sad ending to a great neighborhood news paper, and I’m sure it will be missed by many.
Best wishes to the Robinson family!~
What a wonderful legacy! When change comes it is hard to put it in the good or bad bag- only time will weigh in on that - but that legacy is yours, Patrick. How wonderful to carry that with you along with the smell of ink.
Pat, It is truly a sad day to see the legacy of the paper you and your family published each Week going away. I loved reading the West Seayyle Herald from front to back every week. I now live in Top Hat and I still pick it up to read. As with many family business' that have been icons of West Seattle, changes happen but life goes on. You brighten my day with your photo's of our beloved West Side. Thanks for everything your family contributed all these years. We have truly been lucky that the Robinson family was in our midst.
Is there an archive of your papers anywhere?
Thank you, Patrick. Change is inevitable and often challenging. Your post exudes grace and gratitude for all that has brought you to this moment. You have brought joy and inspiration to so many. You still do. Thank you for your selflessness and for sharing your art, intellect and energy.
Pat, you’re alright.