Meet Clinton Yates.
Yates is the local news editor for WaPo’s Express and writes Lunchline, a feature dedicated to commenting on the day’s headlines. One of the proud few, he is a DC native. And he clearly loves his city, his Caps and his Nats. Yates began his career in radio and then jumped to the newspaper industry to become one of the district’s favorite journo personalities. Luckily we caught him in between deadlines to answer a few questions.
Find Yates on Twitter, Storify & Instagram
1. What makes you proud to be a DC Native?
It’s one of the most unique cities in the world. Beyond its specific political position and conundrum, D.C. is a place that’s both wholly international and holds deep roots from a local standpoint as well. Over the past 10-15 years, the area overall has really become a heck of place to watch the cultural evolution of this country take place.
What makes me most proud though has been being able to stay here and make an impact on those who did the same as well as those who are recently arrived or grew up somewhere else. It’s a full-time job to remind people that the city always has and always will be more than just the place they visited on a middle school trip.
2. As someone who has lived and worked in this city all his life, what is your number one piece of advice for those trying to break into DC?
This is three-fold. But the first is a definite must. Never, ever, ever, tell anyone that it’s “rare” to meet people who are “actually from D.C.” This is potentially the most idiotic thing I hear on a regular basis and it makes no sense at all. Guess what? I grew up in D.C. Nearly every single one of my friends is from D.C. Obviously. So is my family. Don’t be the person that immediately exposes yourself as totally self-absorbed because you’ve chosen to affiliate with a certain social circle. You’ll automatically come across as a person that is clueless about their surroundings.
The second thing is to not treat D.C. like some urban annex of your hometown or college town. I hate to say it, but the District has very real problems much like those that have plagued many urban metropolises for decades. That doesn’t mean that you have to accept everything that comes along, but remember, people have been dealing with things like say, Metro delays, snow removal issues, crime and a lack of diverse 24-hour food options for years. The city is still plenty liveable. With good can come bad. That’s the price of living in a major metropolitan area.
Lastly, and this is important, is to have a positive outlook about tourists. I love tourists. For one, they provide the city and region with money it needs. Secondly, although they can be a bit out of touch with some local customs, they’re just exercising their rights as Americans to (hello) visit the nation’s capital. If a family with a stroller made you late for work this morning, you need to leave earlier. Don’t blame them for their vacation. A flippant anti-tourist attitude is another obvious me-first giveaway that can be an immediate professional turnoff. Without tourists, some people couldn’t make a living.
3. You’ve been writing Lunchline for almost two years now [first post November 2010], how has the feature grown since you started it?
It may sound obvious, but thankfully, it seems that people have come to like it more. At first, many thought I was another jackass with a keyboard making off-handed remarks about the city. But over time, I’ve been able to share more of my personality with people and in turn they’ve become more attached. I’d like to think that I’m honest with my readers about who I am and therefore they can be the same with me.
I get letters from readers all the time telling me that stories about my family and friends or experiences growing up really help them break up the monotony of a regular day. I also get all kinds of notes from folks who have had similar experiences to mine. All of it is great, to me. With so many rigid characters pervading D.C., it’s nice to be able to interact with real people that are willing to share who they are
4. What is the most unique experience your job has allowed you to have?
I’d say it’s been watching the evolution of pop culture over the past five years. In 2007, there were no internet memes, Twitter was in its infancy, and Facebook was still very much a college-based product. Part of my job is to put together Blog Log, and as a result I’ve been able to have a creative outlet that allows me to keep up with all sorts of topics. I take pop culture pretty seriously as an interest, so being able to document the things that make our society quirk is a real treat.
In short, what some people are forced to do in and around their jobs, I get to do as my actual job. That weird video your old group-house roommate sent you that’s soooooo funny? Not only do I watch those, I’ve got to find someone that actually had something remarkable to say about it. Keeping up with all of it isn’t as easy as it looks, but it’s what I love, so that works out.
5. If Obama called looking to hang out, what would you guys do on a Friday night?
No doubt about it we’d go on a foosball crawl. I’ve played since grade school (we had a table in the boys locker room) and there are few fun bars around the area that have them. It’s great fun if you’ve never played. If I ever got to score a goal on the President, I wouldn’t tell my future grandkids or anything, but I’d definitely tell my dad.