I want to commend The Beachcomber for its thoughtful coverage of Kevin Hoffberg’s abrupt resignation as the executive director of the Vashon Center for the Arts. This is not an easy story to do on a small island. VCA rightly has many boosters, champions and patrons. It’s the largest nonprofit on the island, and it is both beloved and powerful.
But it’s not the newspaper’s role to be a booster. It is the paper’s job to serve the community with excellent, meaningful news coverage. And so The Beachcomber has done — repeatedly — in its reporting on VCA. Over the past year, Elizabeth Shepherd has covered many aspects of this important island institution, from its struggles to right itself financially to its excellent programming. She has advanced numerous performances, covered its lovely summer arts fest and recently produced a front-page story about the way Hoffberg and gallery manager Lynann Politte have addressed the concerns of Vashon’s visual artists.
When the executive director quit without even the customary two-week notice, she again stepped up as a journalist, asking hard questions in an attempt to let islanders know why a man who had taken on the helm of VCA amid much fanfare was stepping down after only a year in the post. This is not yellow journalism. It is fearless journalism.
VCA is staffed by good people doing good work. But its leadership continues to try to hide behind cryptic comments and sleight-of-hand PR tactics. For years, people have been asking VCA leadership to act with more transparency. The Beachcomber, in going beyond press releases and canned statements, is also seeking transparency. In the best of journalistic tradition, it is attempting to hold accountable those who hold the public trust.
— Leslie Brown