Award presentations make for a long evening no matter how they’re handled, as anyone who sat through the Oscars can testify (I took an unintentional yet blessedly well-timed power nap that lasted from just before Jerry Lewis came on until just after he left). But imagine that night without Brad and Angelina and all the ridiculous, cake-topping gowns to mock. Now picture a much smaller venue packed with local newspaper writers, magazine editors, and radio producers. Crackling excitement, right?
I bring it up because Jack Hamann spoke last year smack dab in the middle of the Society of Professional Journalists awards ceremony when—and this is not meant as an affront to the hard work of a fine organization that has been more than generous to this magazine—most of the place was probably hoping to keep the night sailing along at a brisk clip.
Whatever. The SPJ folks got it right by bringing out Hamann to talk about the savvy, strokes of luck, and endurance it took for him to uncover the local tragedy recounted in his On American Soil: How Justice Became a Casualty of World War II. He held the attention of the room with a gripping reminder of what good reporting can do. His natural curiosity changed history; his investigations got Congress to reopen a closed case. Read Seattle Met assistant editor Chris Werner’s interview with Hamann then head to Room 101 of the Suzzallo Library at UW on Friday March 6 to hear Hamann speak.
Hamann stumbled upon a life-changing story—and, thankfully, he still knows what to do with it.