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The power of journalism: My thoughts on Seattle’s loss of Kathi Goertzen

Kathi Goertzen, 1958-2012.

We lost a dear, dear friend today.

Dan Lewis, KOMO 4 news anchor

Truer words have not been said.

For anyone in or from Western Washington today, our community suffered a great loss. Longtime KOMO 4 News anchor Kathi Goertzen died after a 14-year battle with brain tumors. She was 54.

If you lived in the Seattle area in the 1980s and 1990s, Kathi was probably one of the faces who graced your television sets every evening, reporting the news. She and Dan Lewis were a team and I don’t exaggerate when I say, a Seattle staple.

Now although I’m a journalist myself, I have to admit I don’t have any specific memories of watching Kathi or any specific stories she covered. Remember, I was only 12 when she was diagnosed with her first tumor. What I do remember is seeing Kathi and Dan together at the news desk every night and even though I rarely knew (or at that age, cared, honestly) what they were talking about, I knew I could count on them to anchor the news.

With the news of Kathi’s death, KOMO 4’s website, Facebook page and other social media sites have been blowing up with condolences and support for the KOMO 4 team. I’ve been watching that team — Steve Pool, Dan Lewis, Mary Nam, Eric Johnson and Connie Thompson — talk about their memories of Kathi and seeing them try to hold it together on live television has made it hard for me to hold it together sitting in my living room.

I never met Kathi or had any contact with her at all, but through her battle and eventual loss to the tumors that ravaged her brain, I’ve come to see the power of journalism and how it can touch people’s lives. Obviously as a print journalist, I’m never going to be a great public figure, but I already know the role I play in the community I report on as people are constantly emailing us and urging us to report on what’s important to them. I’ve also had many people in the almost two years I’ve been at the Redmond Reporter come up to me, saying they’ve seen me at this meeting, that event or the other.

I’m still early in my career as a journalist but just watching the Greater Puget Sound’s reaction and response to Kathi’s death has shown me, as Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

And just hearing about all the different things Kathi has done as a result of her local fame, I think it’s safe to say she took that responsibility very seriously.

I can only hope I will do the same in time.

Rest in peace, Kathi Goertzen. We in Greater Seattle were better for knowing you.

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2 comments on “The power of journalism: My thoughts on Seattle’s loss of Kathi Goertzen

  1. Sam, I just found this out from your blog/facebook and feel sad. I appreciate how genuine you are, and i hope you truly take that responsibility seriously. You could not be more right…what an awesome lesson to take away.

    • Thanks Chrissy! It is a sad day for the Seattle area, but hopefully Kathi has inspired more than just me to go out and contribute to society.

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