(This is the 15th installment in a weekly series with people who don’t work in journalism commenting on the news. Photography by Kevin Fiscus. If you’d like to participate, message or tweet me.)
Meet Patrick Harbison.
He’s 35, a Pocket-Greenhaven native, a Sacramento State graduate, lives in Boulevard Park, sits on the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes planning committee for Women Escaping a Violent Environment and serves on the board of directors for the Christian Brothers High School Alumni Association.
He has worked in the public relations field for more than 15 years and started his namsake firm nearly four years ago, with clients that include the California Municipal Utilities Association, Sacramento Beer Week and Days of Our Lives actress Kate Mansi.
You may recognize him as the 2010 Sacramento’s Most Eligible Bachelor, read his post on the bro breeds of Sacramento, seen his 2014 selection in the Sacramento Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 or watched him host the Sacramento Has Talent audition show.
We met for the first time in August at The Mill to talk about media consumption, the city of Sacramento and his thoughts on the news.
Patrick was drawn to the project because of what he describes as an introspective nature.
“As a media professional, I want to know what other media professionals are into,” he says.
At one time, Patrick, like many of the previous contributors, wanted to be a journalist. “The next Anderson Cooper,” he says. He wanted to travel the globe in search of great stories and hoped Matthew McConaughey would one day play him in a movie.
It didn’t take long for a couple things to send him on another path. The pay at his first post-college job, an entry-level position in advertising, was poor. The relationship between the publisher and the editorial staff was frayed. The decline in print advertising began to take its toll. He left traditional media to become what he calls a “private sector beast.”
He values building relationships with reporters, learning what they need and what stories interest them. He has seen how different platforms demand a tailored approach.
“I love the idea of engaging media,” he says.
Along the way, he has seen Sacramento change “so much and fairly rapidly.” The food scene has “bloomed,” the arts have “ramped up” and local music is having a “huge, huge moment.” Sacramento is “no longer just a political city.”
“It’s got bit city attributes… but with a better quality of life,” he says.
Patrick answered the following questions by email about how he gets the news. Text submitted July 1.
How do you get your news?
I’m a mobile device junkie – most all of my news comes from some digital platform. Twitter for real time updates and various apps for major network coverage (NBC, CNN, MSNBC, BBC). I’m a big fan of certain online sites for local coverage – The Sacramento Bee has gone through a great re-design and I’m a daily reader of Rough & Tumble for subject-based daily recaps. My love affair with NPR cannot be overstated – when I’m not blasting ’80s synth beats you can be sure NPR is playing on my car’s radio. And, guilty pleasure alert: TMZ multiple times a day.
What’s the first news event you remember?
I remember being devastated by the Columbine shootings as a high school student – the age similarity of the victims obviously hit home. But two big newsworthy incidents that stick out to me before Columbine are the ’89 earthquake and the Challenger space shuttle explosion. I think, for me, both were early examples of how major media deals with disaster and tragedy.
What content do you pay for?
I’ve been a Wall Street Journal subscriber for years – my current subscription applies to only online content, but I’m a big fan. Locally, I subscribe Sactown Magazine – I think they do a very good job of creating unique content for their print and online versions – and the photography is gorgeous.
What’s the last great thing you ate?
Where to begin? So many noms! Chef Adam Pechal made an amazing chimichurri steak at a recent event I attended, Chef Patrick Mulvaney can literally do no wrong with seafood and the recent salmon dish I had at his restaurant was perhaps the best testament to that fact, Orchid Thai‘s peanut sauce is the best ever, but honestly, my mother’s meatballs in homemade marinara sauce can’t be touched.
Who’s doing it right in news?
I’m obsessed with all things VICE News. I find their wide-ranging topics fascinating and am constantly amazed at their access and content output. Locally, I am a big fan of Sonya Sorich at the Sacramento Business Journal. She covers events, business developments and current issues with ease – nailing all the facts and leaving out any personal bias. Fox 40‘s Bethany Crouch and Good Day Sacramento‘s Cambi Brown are some personal heroes of mine – I have no idea how a person looks that good, juggles that many daily topics AND wakes up at 4 a.m. Hats off to all three ladies.
Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
I’d like to see Sacramento pivot from its political capitol mentality and embrace its artistic and cultural side(s). I see huge waves of change occurring amongst creative types –TBD FEST, the Farm to Form movement, Second Saturday, etc. – and love the vibe it brings to the area. I think it is these types of events and cultural shifts that will help brand Sacramento as a progressive city in its own right and allow it to stand out in California and hold its own against cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Sacramento has a homeless population problem. Fact. The city is a community in which we want everyone to thrive, to be taken care of in times of need and to feel safe when walking around or using public transit. It’s a complicated issue – one fraught with humanatarism, public safety and economic development issues – but one that I believe Sacramento prioritizes and will find viable solutions for.
I’d love to see an increase in locally supported businesses and companies. I was slightly gleeful when California Pizza Kitchen closed its Midtown doors and a locally-owned restaurant took over. Likewise, I am highly encouraged by the #ShopLocal campaign and the great work various business associations do to spread the word about independent gems in our city but I’d like to see this awareness spread further than the Midtown/Downtown districts.
What do you absolutely hate about the news?
Having an obvious bias and a lack of accountability are huge issues facing mainstream news organizations. Even with the internet, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a legitimate news source.
What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
Sacramento is one of the state’s biggest hubs for human trafficking, with girls as young as 12 and 13 being sold for sex. It’s a multi-million dollar industry and a lot of the victims are hidden in plain sight. I’d like local media to shine a greater light on this issue to educate both the community at large and also the victims – giving them strength to come forward knowing there are resources and people to help.
If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
So many great options! I’d love to be sitting on a blanket at Delores Park sharing a rum coconut with my San Francisco friends I don’t see nearly often enough.
Follow Patrick (@pweekly) on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.
One thought on “People of Sacramento commenting on the news: Patrick Harbison”
Love Patrick and all the organizations he works with. Kudos for mentioning the homeless and human trafficking issues. Sacramento is such a great city and am hopeful it will address them with compassion and respect.