A Reporter’s Farewell

I will always have a special place for Vashon, as it was my first professional newspaper job.

I’ll never forget the first time I met a journalist.

I was about eight or nine years old and, of all possible places I could have encountered this reporter, I was at a Halloween Festival carving a pumpkin with my mom.

This journalist, who identified himself as coming from The Bellingham Herald and was distinctively dressed in all black, took out a long, skinny reporter’s notebook. He asked simply who I was and what I planned to be for Halloween that year. I happily replied, still carving away on my pumpkin.

I remember my parents going to the grocery store and picking up the copy of the newspaper with the specific article featured – and there was a quote from me, included in the text.

Now, do I think this singular interaction in elementary school was the catalyst for pursuing a career in journalism? No – there’s a bit more to it.

I always loved writing and considered myself a bit of a “news junkie” – always reading copies of The Northern Light, our weekly community newspaper in Blaine, Washington, and devotedly watching local TV news coverage (KING 5 at 5 p.m., NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams at 6 p.m.). I strongly believe that no matter where someone lives, they are entitled to high-quality, accessible journalism – and I want to be part of that process.

I owe plenty to places like The Northern Light, which allowed me to intern as a high school senior, as well as KING 5, which had me as an intern in my senior year in college. My professors in college and my time working on the campus newspaper provided rich, valuable experiences.

But I will always have a special place for Vashon, as it was my first, professional newspaper job. How many people can say their very first job took them to an island that is only accessible by ferry?

It’s been an honor to tell the stories of islanders – from profiles of notable people on Vashon to covering local agencies or covering local crime. We see, hear and write about a wide variety of everything each week at The Beachcomber, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love getting to hop into my car, reporter’s notebook and Nikon in hand, prepared to cover what comes next.

So what does come next?

For me, I will be leaving Vashon. I’ll be moving to the Oregon coast to take on a new challenge as the associate editor at The Astorian in Astoria, Oregon.

I’ve loved this part of the Pacific Northwest since I was small, as my parents would religiously take our family to the Oregon coast nearly every summer. It’s even better since I get to continue my work as a journalist.

I’ll miss Vashon, and most especially miss Liz Shepherd, Daralyn Anderson and Pat Seaman – the three Beachcomber staff members who have shaped and defined my time on this island.

Thank you, Vashon, for having me.

Jenna Dennison is a reporter at The Beachcomber. Her final day at the newspaper is Thursday, July 21.