Opinion

My farewell address to you | TJ Martinell

They say that all good things must come to an end at some point.

There is a strong degree of truth to it, as least for me.

I must state with great sadness that this will be my final issue, and consequently my final editorial, for the Covington-Maple Valley-Black Diamond Reporter. Starting at the beginning of next year, I will be working as an editor at msn.com.

Replacing me will be Katherine Smith, a Kentridge graduate with ties to community.

In one of my columns last year when discussing people’s futures and their careers, I remarked that the future is, for most of us, uncertain. There is always that one event or occurrence we can’t anticipate which changes everything. The ever-changing face of journalism makes it all the more uncertain for reporters like myself whose journey has just recently started. Who knows where I will be at this time next year?

As excited as I am for the opportunity that has come my way, the transition carries with it a lot of bittersweetness. Inasmuch as this new job is a large step forward, I wouldn’t have been able to make that step if I hadn’t come here first.

When I started at the Reporter in April 2011, I was a recent college graduate working in retail with barely a year’s worth of journalism experience under my belt. I had no idea what to expect or what my experience at the Reporter would be like. My limited knowledge of newspapers came from my time as the news editor at my university paper and my impression of national media, a rather odd combination.

Being geographically challenged at the time, I also knew virtually nothing about the South King County area, as I was born and raised in Bellevue.

This job I feel has managed to cram 10 years worth of experience into two, in no small part thanks to Kris and Dennis. I have learned more in that amount of time than I have at any other point in my life.

As some of you may know, or don’t know, people don’t go into journalism for the money — and unlike other professions, when we say that, we’re being serious. People become reporters for a lot of reasons, some of them legitimate, some not.

But not for the cash.

I often get asked why I decided to become a reporter or what attracted me to journalism, in spite of all the struggles that come with it.

Most of the time, I found it hard to provide an answer. I’ve never been good at the five-second elevator pitch. My elongated explanations would have tried the patience of Job.

The answer would always come out, however, whenever I spoke with friends, family or while striking a conversation with a random person on the street. Work always came up.

While the other person would briefly describe their Office Space-like work environment, banal workload and day to day monotony caused by their Lumbergh-like supervisor, I would get to talk about dozens of fantastic stories I was currently covering, from the fastest cross country runners in the state and a series on education and historical events to state legislative politics and all the great philanthropic efforts people in the community are doing.

I got to read my editorials, articles and columns to family members, which always got a laugh or chuckle we writers so badly crave from our readers. I also thought of it this way: In 30 years, how many people look back on the work they did when they were 25? And how many of those look back fondly on it?

I know I will be able to do both, thanks to the amazing people of Maple Valley, Covington and Black Diamond. Some of the best stories I wrote had little to do with my writing abilities and mostly to do with the achievements of the person or people in the story. My best contribution to those stories was letting the story tell itself without me bungling it.

Most importantly, though, I got to write stories that helped not only inform, but bring attention to people in the community who deserved to be recognized.

This doesn’t happen enough.

In a world where tragedies are often the mainstay of media outlets, it’s critical more than ever to get those stories out about people who build up their community, rather than those who tear it down.

I’m certain that many of the people I’ve written about, whether they’re musicians, athletes or cartoonists, are going to make it big.

When that happens and suddenly everyone knows their name, I will not only be able to say “I knew them when…” but “I wrote about then when…”

Additionally, as an aspiring novelist, my time here has given me enough book ideas to last a lifetime.

I also was blessed with two great editors who helped me learn the basics of reporting. Whereas in other work environments supervisors maintain a god-like aura around themselves and tolerate no dissent, Kris and Dennis fostered a rare climate where we could debate and discuss issues and stories freely — and yes, poke fun at each other about our respective idiosyncrasies.

If I am able to work in another environment similar to it, I will be lucky.

My time here will be remembered as a positive part of my life. I hope you the reader will remember it in a similar manner.

 

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