Off The Press

August 17, 2010

By Laura Geggel

Laura Geggel Press reporter

I have come full circle. Issaquah is where my story begins and is now beginning again, but let me explain before I get ahead of myself.

In 2006, I interned at The Issaquah Press during my junior summer of college. Reporting for a community newspaper was different from reporting for my college newspaper. Instead of interviewing 20-somethings or professors, I drove out into the community, reporting on elementary school history lessons, Locks of Love contributors, the edible forest along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and the obituary of an Issaquah man who had died in a marine accident.

Community journalism inspired me, and hopefully inspired my readers. Issaquah’s students and historians welcomed me. I learned about the allegedly haunted train cars at the depot and about programming for the elderly at Providence Marianwood. I found out every person had a story when I threw a dart at the phone book and interviewed an Issaquah man who swore carrot juice had contributed to his longevity.

Bolstered by my experiences at the Press, I entered what I call my “year of internships” after college, first interning at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and then at a publication at Harvard Medical School.The only problem with internships was the pay. I needed a real job, so I jumped at the chance to report about education at The Issaquah Press’ new sister newspaper, SnoValley Star.

For the next two and a half years, I covered the Snoqualmie Valley School District and the Snoqualmie and North Bend communities. Just like my internship at The Issaquah Press, I learned the power of community journalism. I took our readers into classrooms as students learned how to read, wove cedar baskets or studied the eating habits of snails using the scientific method.

SnoValley Star also covered harder stories — student crowding at Mount Si High School and how budget cuts were affecting the district’s librarians, custodians and secretaries. We covered flooding, controversial off-leash dog parks and how the music from Snoqualmie Casino’s outdoor concerts affects some of its neighbors.

When I learned that my former co-worker Chantelle Lusebrink had decided to leave her position, I gave much thought to applying to The Issaquah Press.

I enjoyed reporting in the Snoqualmie Valley, but I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to meet new people and visit new places. I wanted to familiarize myself with Issaquah like the back of my hand, introduce myself to PTSA parents, teachers, students and share their projects and ambitions with the community.

Lusebrink took me on a driving tour of the Issaquah School District, showing me its expansive four corners and most of the district’s 25 schools.

I can’t wait to learn about the Issaquah School District’s outstanding projects and people. As always, my greatest resource is people like you. If you have story ideas or questions, e-mail me at lgeggel@isspress.com or call me at 392-6434, ext. 241.

Some of you are already calling, and I look forward to meeting you and learning more about you and your family, group or school. The more I know, the more I can share with our approximately 16,000 readers.

As you may have read in my last Off the Press column, I’m easy to recognize; I have red hair. Give me a call or a tap on the shoulder. Together, we can take community journalism to the next level.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 221, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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