When Seattleites think of The Big Blog, we think of energetic, 20-something Monica Guzman. After all, what would the seattlepi.com’s Big Blog be without Monica riding the Sound Transit light rail with throngs of young Seattleites in their underwear, joining the flash Glee mob dancing to "Don’t Stop Believing" at Westlake Center, or hosting weekly Big Blog meet-ups at coffee shops around town?
We're about to find out. As of last week, Guzman is no longer the woman behind The Big Blog banner. She left the popular, chatty seattlepi.com blog to join a company called Intersect. Founded two years ago but still in stealth mode, Intersect is led by Peter Rinearson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist and Microsoft vice president who co-authored a book with Bill Gates.
Though Guzman can't talk about what Intersect is up to yet, one thing's for certain: Guzman and The Big Blog have parted ways. She;ll no longer be the voice of a column that tracks the quirky, fun, positive stories taking place in the city each day.
Enter Humberto Martinez, a 24-year-old Hearst Fellow at seattlepi.com. Martinez, who has been in Seattle since January, is going to step into Guzman’s role. He’ll be writing blog entries, organizing meet-ups, and becoming the face, name and brand of The Big Blog. Martinez, who calls Guzman "an efficient machine" and a "superstar in the company," knows he has big shoes to fill.
"It's kind of scary," Martinez said. "Monica and I are very different people."
But Martinez doesn't plan on becoming a new Monica Guzman. He knows his personality differs from the uber-outgoing Guzman, and he's okay with that. Martinez believes he's a little more private, and while he'll share himself with his readers, he wants to keep some things — his Facebook page, for instance — for his private life.
Guzman, for her part, believes The Big Blog should reflect Martinez's voice. "I think any blog is strongest when it adopts the passions of the blogger," Guzman said.
The Big Blog has already undergone many evolutions since its formation in July of 2007. At that time, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had several blogs, but wanted a single blog that would use multiple authors to cover many topics with a bit of sass and opinion. Guzman, then 24-years-old, knew social media, youth, and culture. She'd lead the effort.
"We wanted to put a little more voice in the P-I," Guzman said.
When the Seattle P-I disappeared to make way for an online publication and most of the reporting staff lost their jobs, almost all of The Big Blog writing fell to Guzman. She looked to capture interesting or unusual events happening in Seattle. Or, as she puts it, stories that created "this common sense of awe and wonder."
When Guzman announced she’d be accepting an offer with Intersect, Martinez seemed an obvious fit to take over. He'd already been working with his predecessor since showing up in Seattle. Also, he's young and up for the social nature of the job. As Big Blog helmsman, he needs to Facebook, Tweet, and get out and meet his readers.
Martinez doesn;t know yet if he'll be at The Big Blog — or Seattle, for that matter — for the long run. As a Hearst Fellow, he spends eight months at three different company newspapers. Seattlepi.com is the last of the three, so he’s hopeful he may pick up a job once the fellowship runs out. Guzman, incidentally, ended up at the P-I on the same program.
For now, Martinez is happy that he;s been given the chance to run The Big Blog. “I'm excited," Martinez said. "I've acquired a big audience and been given a stage."
Guzman agrees that Martinez has been awarded a huge opportunity, as she recognizes what The Big Blog did for her own career. As the face behind The Big Blog, she became known around town. Even though she's on to a new life at Intersect, she'll still be associated with creating a community around a quirky, light-hearted city blog.
A slightly different version of this article appeared earlier on the web site of the Washington News Council.
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