Yesterday Seattle Weekly restaurant critic Hanna Raskin announced that she was leaving her post and that her position had "been eliminated." After an outpouring of support, Raskin tweeted: "Humbled and overwhelmed by the support I've received today. Heartening to learn how many folks still care about print journalism."
Back in January, Seattle Weekly was acquired by Sound Publishing— a publisher of 38 titles in Washington state — from Voice Media Group, and this is one of the changes in editorial direction by the new owner. Eater reached out to Seattle Weekly's Editor in Chief Mark Baumgarten who provided a statement. It read, in part: "As we shift the structure of Seattle Weekly following a change in ownership and editorial leadership, the Food Critic position is being eliminated to make room for a Food + Drink Editor position ... Because of this change and Hanna's desire to remain focused on food writing, she has decided to leave the ranks of Seattle Weekly's full-time editorial staff."
In Raskin's announcement post, she wrote that the paper's editor "told staffers he hasn't ruled out the possibility of running reviews in the future, but it's still unclear who might write them." The statement notes that the new direction will include "criticism alongside features," a sort of nebulous explanation which does not bode well. The ongoing national trend of newspapers scaling back their operations and getting rid of restaurant criticism continues. Here's the full statement:
HANNA RASKIN LEAVING SEATTLE WEEKLY FOLLOWING RESTRUCTURE
For the past two years Hanna Raskin has served as Seattle Weekly's Food Critic, providing our readers with expertly-written accounts of her culinary sojourns every week. In addition to rich and engaging feature writing, she has presented studied, insightful and honest criticism about this city's food, helping readers to avoid the bad, and enjoy the good. As Food Critic, she has been a great asset to this paper.
As we shift the structure of Seattle Weekly following a change in ownership and editorial leadership, the Food Critic position is being eliminated to make room for a Food + Drink Editor position (description below). Because of this change and Hanna's desire to remain focused on food writing, she has decided to leave the ranks of Seattle Weekly's full-time editorial staff. She will wrap up her tenure at the end of this month, although her reviews will run for two weeks past that date. We have welcomed her to contribute more in the future and hope that she does.
In the coming weeks we will be hiring a Food + Drink Editor, whose job it will be to oversee the development and daily operations of Seattle Weekly's Food + Drink coverage. The editor will be responsible for ushering in a new, more robust weekly product that will feature criticism alongside features, columns and more experimental fare from some of Seattle's savviest food writers. This editor will also be responsible for keeping readers abreast of trending topics and daily news on the Voracious blog, maintaining Seattle Weekly's up-to-date and exhaustive online dining listings and planning our annual Restaurant Guide. And he or she will write about the city's restaurants, be they new and noteworthy, longstanding and worth another look, or hidden in plain sight and waiting to be discovered.
We thank Hanna for all of her hard work and we wish her well as she continues to blaze a path in the world of food criticism.