Profiles

A conversation with Phyllis Campbell
Chairman, Pacific Northwest, JPMorgan Chase

Q: Do you read The Seattle Times in print or online?

Phyllis Campbell: I read both versions. When I’m home in Seattle, which is the majority of my time in the Pacific Northwest, that’s the first newspaper I read, always, and I get a stack of newspapers. I read The Seattle Times every day, first thing in the morning, before I have my coffee, before, even, I work out at the Washington Athletic Club. I read it from beginning to end. And then when I’m away — periodically we escape to Maui — I get my seattletimes.com every day just to make sure I keep up with what’s going on. So it is one of the first things I read every day.

Q: Tell us about your morning routine.

PC: Well, (laughter) I think I need help. I get up every day at 4:30 a.m. whether I need to or not, except for Saturdays, when I sleep in until 5 o’clock. The first thing I do on Saturdays — we get The Seattle Times delivered — is read it at home. But on every other weekday I’m out of the house by 5:15 so I can get downtown to the WAC to do my workout. The WAC has all the newspapers stacked up — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Seattle Times. So I get my coffee, run into the WAC, get my Seattle Times and read it and then I do my workout.

Q: Do you read other newspapers?

PC: I do. I subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, and I read it at the office. Once in a while we’ll pick up The New York Times, but I find The Seattle Times covers all the general news that I need to read. If I don’t have time to read any other newspaper, I always make sure to read The Seattle Times.

Q: What’s the difference between a local newspaper vs. the national ones?

PC: That’s what I love about The Seattle Times. Because I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and the majority of my time today is spent in the Pacific Northwest, I really do care about what goes on here. The Seattle Times offers the local lens even on the national news that gives it context for how it relates to the Pacific Northwest. I think it’s extremely important to have good general reporting and I find The Seattle Times has that good general reporting. So I can read all my world headlines on the second page and get a good sense of what’s going on, and then scan the international and national news for what I need to read.

It’s telling that I always find that the conversations in my world every day tend to start with, “Did you see in the Times” the story, locally, about such-and-such a person or event. So that’s one more reason why I want to make sure that I’m up on the local news. That’s why it’s important to me to have a local newspaper like The Seattle Times.

Q: How long have you been a subscriber?

PC: Well, we moved from Spokane to Seattle in 1990, so since then we’ve been subscribers. We, my husband and I, are both avid readers. My husband loves The Seattle Times for the comics and the word jumble. And the news is secondary. It’s funny because we kind of fight over the newspaper in the morning. He’s always grabbing the section with the Jumble in it.

I actually find it’s not just the news and business stories and the local scene that I’m going to be I’m interested in, but it’s also sports. I do find The Seattle Times sportswriters quite extraordinary — they way they keep me informed on what’s going on with the national sports scene. But it’s the local sports scene that’s particularly interesting to me. I think the value of The Seattle Times is their focus on local people, which I think is unique about our community.

Q: Why do you think “local” is so important?

PC: If you look at the Pacific Northwest culture, I think that neighbors, friends, family, that sense of community, is really one of the values that drives us. Again, having been raised in the Northwest, I recognize that we choose to live here for that reason, because of that strong sense of community, of working together to make our local communities better. One of the reasons I took this job with JPMorgan Chase & Co. was because I felt it was important to have a strong bank here to make sure we connect to the local community and support it through our philanthropy and community involvement. One of the reasons that my husband and I stayed here is that we appreciate that sense of community, of neighbors helping other neighbors.

The Seattle Times has that aspect — of being the hometown, family-owned newspaper — that real sense of responsibility. That it’s their obligation as a newspaper to work hand-in-hand with other businesses to create that sense of community.

Q: Tell us about the Sunday newspaper. Is that a different experience for you?

PC: It is. That’s what I like about The Sunday Seattle Times. It has more of a contextual richness with Pacific Northwest and Parade magazines. I think even having a few more in-depth pieces about what’s going on is more of a break for me to take the newspaper and just sit down and read it, absorb it, and think about some of the stories. It’s a different experience because I’m not just running, trying to read the headline and pick out stories I might be interested in. I really read it from beginning to end. And I look forward to that.

Q: Are there any columnists you specifically read?

PC: With my business background, I’m always looking at the business news, so Drew DeSilver is a favorite. I find that for core business stories, he does a very good job of being thorough. Particularly in banking. But in other business stories, as well, he’s a good reporter who does a great job.

One of the more interesting columnists I like is Jon Talton. He can be a bit provocative, which only adds to the interest. I think his is the kind of local writing that’s both rich in content as well as being entertaining. So he’s a bit of a contrast, but he’s grounded in facts. I think that’s the thing I always like about the reporting in The Seattle Times. It’s grounded in facts, but it’s written with an eye toward having a little personal interest.

Q: What do you love about living in the Pacific Northwest?

PC: I think first and foremost, I enjoy the sense of community. I’ve traveled all over the world for many of my jobs and have spent a lot of time in New York. But in my present job with JPMorgan Chase & Co., I have to say I always come back to the Northwest realizing how lucky we are to have such a deep sense of community, which means civic pride, generosity (both of time and money) to give back to the community and a sense of caring about the future of our community. I do think that’s more pronounced here than in other places in the country. So, the main reason I choose to live here — and all the other things are great, too, like the view and the outdoors, the ability to ski and hike and golf and do all of the sports activities I enjoy doing — is that sense of neighbors caring for neighbors and people really connecting and making sure we have a great community.

Q: What would your dream newspaper look like?

PC: Dream newspaper? Well, The Seattle Times. This morning’s newspaper is a great example of the depth of The Seattle Times. When I scanned all the business headlines, everything that was on CNBC I had already read in The Seattle Times. So all the stories about Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs and everything that was going on, I could get it really quickly by looking at just two pages of The Seattle Times business section.

A hometown newspaper is important because it engenders that sense of community. It’s not just the local reporting; it’s the reinforcement of the importance of it and the issues and people that really create that sense of community. I think The Seattle Times is the only newspaper out there that can do that.