What I Read: Bill Stafford

Bill StaffordBill Stafford, founder and president of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, has a job that many people envy. He organizes trade missions and informational trips all over the world, taking groups of Seattle business, government, civic and media leaders to other countries and cities to learn lessons, forge alliances, make contacts — and have fun to boot! Some people have called these trips boondoggles, but they are more boon than doggle. (Full disclosure: When I was at The Seattle Times in the 1980s, I went on two “inter-city visits” organized by the TDA, to Atlanta and Tampa-St. Petersburg, and was on the first international trip in 1990, to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Stuttgart. I wrote articles about these trips, noting that participants got to know each other better by traveling together and were thus able to work together more effectively when they returned to Seattle. I stand by that position.) The TDA is now a model and has been replicated by other cities around the U.S. and the world, who recognize the value of its efforts. Friends often say that Stafford picks places in the world where he has never been and wants to visit, then proposes a trip there — a charge he doesn’t deny. Stafford was once nicknamed (by Joni Balter of The Seattle Times) as the “Sultan of Schmooze” — a moniker he wears proudly. Stafford has worked for several Seattle Mayors, including Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer and Norm Rice. The Trade Alliance will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.

What are your favorite news outlets and why? The Seattle Times, Puget Sound Business Journal and Crosscut.com, for a variety of politics, business and general news. International Herald Tribune on the web for more international coverage.

What do you consider must reads every day? Must watch? Must hear? I read The Seattle Times, The New York Times and Financial Times. I watch TV if there is a story that has visuals.

Do you consume news through: print, television, radio, laptop, smart phone, ipad, podcasts, other? Print, radio on the way to work for breaking news, TV at times, and breaking news on the computer or iPhone from NYT, Washington Post, and PSBJ.

Do you use Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter for news and information? No.

What online news sites or aggregators do you visit regularly? Every morning I look at international newspaper web sites. I start with the International Herald Tribune followed by the Gulf News, China Daily, Japan Times, Korean Times, a UK newspaper, and sometimes Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Australia and locations for our trips.

Do regularly visit any individual blogs for news, analysis and opinion? Publicola for opinion and Neal Peirce’s “Citistates” for national commentary.

Have your news consumption habits changed in the last few years? If so, how? Nancy Grace has driven me from CNN although I watch some news programs. I miss the paper version of the Seattle PI and read it on occasion on the web at home and more when traveling.

Do you read for fun? If so, what? Last novel you read? Non-fiction book? The Betrayal of American Prosperity by Clyde Prestowitz, The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam, and Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley. In fiction I like historical mysteries by Arturo Perez-Reverte and Treymane.


About John Hamer
JOHN HAMER is President of the Washington News Council, an independent forum for media fairness that he co-founded in 1998. Hamer was formerly Associate Editorial-Page Editor at The Seattle Times and previously Associate Editor with Congressional Quarterly/Editorial Research Reports in Washington, D.C. Read more about John or read John's blog posts.