The Beachcomber is in search of an intrepid reporter.
Our small newsroom — which for the past 15 months has consisted of two reporters receiving weekly assists from a worthy pool of community contributors — will soon lose one of those reporters.
Paul Rowley, who has chased stories for The Beachcomber for the past three years, is moving on to a new career opportunity outside of journalism, and we wish him all the best in his life and new work.
We will also miss him greatly. The Beachcomber and the community owe Paul an endless debt of gratitude.
Paul ably covered legislation affecting Vashon and wrote stories about environmental news impacting Vashon. He took his turn on the schools, parks, fire and hospital district beats, offering rich detail on how taxpayer dollars were being spent and how employees of those governmental public agencies were performing. He profiled noteworthy islanders and local businesses and kept up with local nonprofits and the ferries.
During COVID, he wrote hard stories and editorials about how the pandemic was affecting our community on a weekly basis, urging islanders to listen to science and behave in ways that promoted public health.
He did it all on deadline, while he also worked the phones, reached out to contributors for commentaries and painstakingly performed countless tasks necessary to publishing a weekly newspaper. He processed thousands of photographs, pitched in to help with special sections, and for the past year, worked directly with the newspaper’s designer every Tuesday to get the paper to press by 3 p.m. Once last year, he even did that during an island-wide power outage.
We’re looking now for someone who can pick up where Paul is leaving off, as Vashon glimpses its brave new post-pandemic future.
It is our fondest hope that the future includes a healthy, functioning newspaper.
Local journalism is an important and even noble calling in a time when so many local newspapers are disappearing and news deserts are spreading.
Last year, The Harvard Business Review published a lengthy essay, referencing numerous studies that linked the demise of local newspapers to a rise in local corruption and an increase in polarization. Without access to local news, it said, people are less civically engaged and less likely to vote.
“Democracies need independent, fact-based journalism to provide a voice for a diverse range of people, to watchdog the powerful and keep members of society informed,” the essay said.
We are so fortunate to have a thriving newspaper on Vashon with an intensely local focus — and we know that it contributes to the overall health of our community. But it takes tireless efforts by local reporters, like Paul, to keep the soon-to-be 63-years-old Beachcomber rolling off the presses. It takes someone who understands the urgency of local news.
Are you that person? Do you have the skills required to contribute to your community in this important way? Do you know someone who might be right for the job?
Check out the job listing for The Beachcomber’s reporter position online, and spread the word.
We can’t wait to welcome the person who accepts the challenge of joining our staff.
— Elizabeth Shepherd, Reporter