Missing

Cathy Seipp

Brian Micklethwait took this photo of Cathy Seipp on the night I met her, in London, in December 2003. She’s been gone for nearly four years, and I still think of her when any major news story breaks. I’d LOVE to hear Cathy’s take on WikiLeaks. But I’d also just like to bake her one more dessert.

There are too many great Cathyisms to quote them all, but here are a few of my favorites:

I say don’t trust a religion if they haven’t gone beyond disliking dogs.

I grew up in conservative, practically all-white Los Alamitos, a hicksville suburb in Orange County…In high-school history class, the teacher mentioned that Jesus spoke Aramaic. This shocked one girl so much she started to cry, insisting tearfully that “Jesus spoke English!” If you explained you didn’t celebrate Christmas because you weren’t Christian, people often looked at you uncomprehendingly – as they did if you said you wanted to live somewhere else one day, or if you described a book they hadn’t heard of, which was practically any book.

So I spent my formative years in a constant state of irritation, which was good practice for my life today. Because here in Medialand, people often look at you uncomprehendingly if you explain that not everyone in America agrees with the received media wisdom about topics like affirmative action, abortion, and gun control – and that, furthermore, these people with different ideas are not necessarily evil bigots, even if some of them do go to church. The insular cluelessness of many of my colleagues actually irritates me more than the insular cluelessness of my uneducated old neighbors. Because journalists, unlike the descendents of Dust Bowl refugees, are supposed to be curious about – or at least aware of – other people with different points of view.

[…]

[On her daughter’s schooling] I think it’s just as well to go to school with people who are different from you. I think that’s part of the problem with all these West-side liberal Jews. Everyone around them is exactly alike and they never meet anyone who is different…It makes me grateful for this Okie area I grew up in, even though I hated it then and wanted to get away. It teaches you that not everyone thinks the way you think. It’s a good thing to learn as a journalist that most people are not like the cultural elite in the newsroom. It’s so easy to shock journalists. If you have a different opinion, they’re shocked.

…Luke: “Was there ever time when people’s anger at you overwhelmed you and inhibited your writing?”

Cathy: “Never. If you are going to care about people getting mad, you should be a social worker, not a journalist.”

…Luke: “What are the most common mistakes entertainment journalists make?”

Cathy: “Their biggest mistake is that they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

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