Best Newspaper Columnist

Danny Westneat

It's not as though there are too many papers left in town. And how many actually have city-beat columnists in the vein of Emmett Watson and Rick Anderson—or even Robert Jamieson's slices of downtown life in the late, (occasionally) great P-I? And I can't pick Steve Elliott—no matter how important a service he provides, writing one of only a handful of medical-marijuana columns in the country in these very pages—or Dategirl Judy McGuire. That'd be nepotism. So . . . it's got to be The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat. Since 2004, from his front-page platform in the Northwest section every Wednesday and Sunday, he's been a voice of moderation, reason, and progressive thought in a paper often lacking those qualities over the years, at least editorially. He's smart, with a reporter's eye for a good story—previously at the Times, he covered environmental issues and held down the political beat in D.C. A natural contrarian, he asks the tough questions, holds those in power accountable, and confronts the big issues (for example, his series of columns on racial issues in Seattle schools) head-on, instead of dancing around them rhetorically. If you want flowery eloquence, look elsewhere; Westneat is plainspoken, straightforward, and concise. Most important, he's fair, with an evenhanded, civil approach that stands out in these increasingly contentious and polarizing times. MICHAEL MAHONEY

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