The Stranger (newspaper)

Type Alternative weekly
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Index Newspapers, LLC
Publisher Tim Keck
Editor Christopher Frizzelle
Founded 1991
Headquarters 1535 11th Ave., Third Floor
Seattle, Washington 98122
Circulation 87,874[1]
ISSN 1935-9004

The Stranger is an alternative weekly newspaper in Seattle, Washington, USA. It runs a blog known as Slog.


The Stranger was founded by Tim Keck, who had previously co-founded the satirical newspaper The Onion, and cartoonist James Sturm. Its first issue came out on September 23, 1991.[2] The paper is distributed to local businesses, newsstands, and newspaper boxes free of charge every Wednesday. It calls itself "Seattle's Only Newspaper," an expression of its disdain for Seattle's two dailies (the Seattle Times and the now-defunct print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and The Stranger's main rival, the Seattle Weekly. The paper regularly covers Seattle City Council politics.

In its early days, The Stranger had a print run of 20,000, and was focused in Seattle's University District.[2] The paper was a single sheet wrapped around a wad of coupons for local businesses.

On April 16, 2012, The Stranger won its first Pulitzer Prize. Eli Sanders won in the Feature Writing category for "The Bravest Woman In Seattle,"[3] which the citation describes as "a haunting story of a woman who survived a brutal attack that took the life of her partner, using the woman’s brave courtroom testimony and the details of the crime to construct a moving narrative." The feature appeared in the June 15, 2011 edition.[4]


Its principal competitor is The Seattle Weekly, a weekly newspaper in Seattle, owned by Sound Publishing, Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.[5]

Notable contributing writers

From April 4, 2001 to September 2007, the paper's editor-in-chief was Dan Savage, an associate editor since its founding who made his name writing the paper's sarcastic and sometimes inflammatory sex advice column, Savage Love, which has appeared in every issue of The Stranger.[6] In September 2007, Savage became the paper's editorial director and was replaced as editor-in-chief by then-27-year-old Christopher Frizzelle, formerly the Books Editor (in 2003) and Arts Editor (from 2004 to 2007).[7] The newspaper's managing editor is Kathleen Richards. The previous managing editor was Bethany Jean Clement, who was formerly the managing editor of Seattle Weekly. Clement's essays in the restaurant section of the newspaper have been anthologized in Best Food Writing 2008 and Best Food Writing 2009.

Associate Editor Charles Mudede is the author of the weekly column Police Beat, which has been adapted to an indie film of the same title. Mudede also co-wrote the controversial movie Zoo, a documentary about the life and death of Kenneth Pinyan who died in a bestiality incident in Enumclaw, Washington in July 2005. The Arts and Music editor is Sean Nelson, lead singer of Seattle band Harvey Danger, formerly the Stranger's Film Editor and a staff writer, profiling the Portland, Oregon band the Decemberists and the pre-teen Seattle band Smoosh when they landed a record deal.

Other writers closely associated with the newspaper include Sherman Alexie, Charles D'Ambrosio, Sarah Vowell, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Raban, Heather McHugh, Rebecca Brown, Edmund White, Gary Shteyngart, Miranda July, Tao Lin, Travis Jeppesen, Andrew Sullivan, Stacey Levine, and JT LeRoy. Previous staffers have included actor/monologist David Schmader, who wrote a "news of the week" column called Last Days, Emily White, who was editor-in-chief and has also authored the books Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut, (2002), and You Will Make Money in Your Sleep. The Story of Dana Giacchetto, Financial Adviser to the Stars (2007); Eric Fredericksen, who went on to run the art space Western Bridge; the novelist Matthew Stadler; Traci Vogel; the art critic Emily Hall; SP Miskowski; Everett True; Peri Pakroo; Matt Cook; Jonathan Hart Eddy; Christine Wenc, who edited the paper from 1992–1993, during which time the paper was included on Rolling Stone's Top 10 list for new alternative journalism; Danny Housman (music editor 1993–1995); and Phillip Campbell. Writers for the paper in the early 1990s include Inga Muscio, Catholic Activist Thomas E. Byers and Clark Humphrey.

New York Times Best Seller and 2012 National Book Award Finalist Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas, worked on staff in the production department from 1993 through 1996 as a production designer, but never wrote for the publication.

News Editors include Sydney Brownstone, Heidi Groover, and Ansel Herz. Previously, the position was held by Dominic Holden. Prior to Dominic Holden was Erica C. Barnett, who in 2007 was named reporter of the year by Seattle's venerable Municipal League.[8] Barnett left the paper in 2009 to work for news web site, founded by former Stranger news editor Josh Feit. The paper's Visual Arts Editor is Jen Graves. The paper's Film Editor is Charles Mudede. The food writer is Angela Garbes. Other staff writers include Dave Segal and Rich Smith.

Stranger ombudsman A. Birch Steen wrote acerbic criticism of the paper within every issue, usually assailing the contents for their extreme liberal bias. He was billed as a former member of the OSHA Board of Governors, but was likely a fictional character. The name is an anagram of Steinbacher, last name of Bradley Steinbacher (an employee of The Stranger since the beginning), the paper's Managing Editor from 2003 until 2008.[9] Steen's harsh critiques, originally appeared on the inside of the back page, and later above the table of contents ("The Stranger: A Critical Overview")[10] and as the apparent author of the paper's Twitter feed.[11] Steen died on Monday, April 16, 2012, after suffering a stroke.[12]


The Stranger has published original comics, illustrations, or graphic art by such notable cartoonists as Tony Millionaire, Peter Bagge, Ellen Forney, Megan Kelso, Al Columbia, Chris Ware, R. Crumb, Jim Woodring, and K. Thor Jensen. In addition, it was the only major Seattle paper to run any of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons: four of them were used to illustrate an article by Bruce Bawer about the controversy.

Awards programs

Since 2003, in association with the cigarette company Lucky Strike, and later the antismoking arts organization Art Patch, the newspaper has awarded the annual Stranger Genius Awards to four Seattle-area individuals and one Seattle-area arts organization. Besides the recognition, each winner receives a $5000 cash award and a cake.[13] Winners of the award include the filmmaker James Longley, the filmmaker Lynn Shelton, the writer Sherman Alexie, the poet Heather McHugh, the actress Sarah Rudinoff, the experimental-theater collective Implied Violence, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, the artist Jeffry Mitchell, and the artist Wynne Greenwood.[14] A party and rock show for the winners is held every fall; past Stranger Genius Award parties have been held at the downtown public library, Seattle Art Museum, and the Moore Theater.


The Hump! film festival provides a venue and awards for home movie erotica. Founded in 2005 by Dan Savage, Hump has since become an annual event that has gained international condemnation from religious fundamentalists and second wave feminists.

The plot of the 2009 film Humpday centers on two friends who plan to make a movie for the Hump Film Festival.


On the Halloween prior to the 2008 elections the Stranger published a parody in its series, Topography of Terror, which included the addresses of homes displaying Republican yard signs.[15] The controversy was then mentioned in a Saturday Night Live sketch about internet conspiracy theories about Democratic intimidation of elderly Republican voters. The Stranger later blacked out the addresses on the online version of its story, after charges of voter intimidation.[15]

See also

Notes and references

  1. "The Stranger". Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
  2. 1 2 Wilma, David. The Stranger begins publication in Seattle on September 23, 1991.,, essay 3506, August 22, 2001. Web page also includes a facsimile of the front page of The Stranger's first issue. Accessed 19 October 2006.
  3. Sanders, Eli (June 15, 2011), "The Bravest Woman in Seattle" (PDF), The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners; Feature Writing, Columbia University
  4. Pulitzer Prizes awarded to Seattle Times, The Stranger. King5. April 16, 2012.
  5. Seattle Weekly at
  6. Murphy, Eileen. Dan Savage Takes Editorial Reins at The Stranger, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, 9 May 2001. Accessed 19 October 2006.
  7. Hackett, Regina. The Stranger In Charge, Art to Go (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), 18 September 2007. Accessed 18 September 2007.
  9. Spangenthal-Lee, Jonah (11 July 2008). "Bradley Steinbacher 1994–2008". Slog. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  10. "A. Birch Steen, Stranger Ombudsman and OSHA Board of Governors Member (Retired)". The Stranger. Archived from the original on 8 March 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  11. Stranger Slog at Twitter
  12. Steen, A. Birch (18 April 2012). "A Critical Overview of The Stranger". Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  13. Frizzelle, Christopher. 2006 Stranger Genius Awards, The Stranger, October 19–25, 2006. p. 25. Related articles p. 25–44. Accessed 19 October 2006.
  14. "The Stranger's Genius Awards". The Stranger. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  15. 1 2 "Hell Houses Topography of Terror: The Eastside Edition". The Stranger. 3 November 2008.
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