InvestigateWest keeps me every bit as busy as I ever was when I worked
in newspapers – even during those soul-draining stretches when I
labored six or seven days a week on major newspaper projects.
Among the many duties that fall to me here at InvestigateWest, there
is one that stands out as the the most fun: working with the
incredible interns we’ve from Western Washington University in
Bellingham, which has one of the best environmental journalism
programs in the nation.
Meet these whip-smart, hardworking young journalists:
* Emily Linroth is entering her senior year at Western. She previously
served as editor of Western’s award-winning environmental journalism
magazine, The Planet. This summer, in addition to her duties as an
InvestigateWest intern, she simultaneously served as editor of Whatcom
Watch, a Bellingham-area monthly focusing on local politics,
environmental news, and community events. Today is Emily’s last day
with InvestigateWest as a summer intern. But in the fall she will be
continuing to work on our Pacific Flyway story as an independent
study. Meanwhile, she’ll be taking classes and continuing to edit
Whatcom Watch. (I have a Warren Zevon quote on the wall of my office:
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I guess it probably applies to Emily,
Emily has done a fantastic job. She quickly cottoned to doing posts
for InvestigateWest blogs and has plugged away at the Flyway story –
more on that in a moment – even though it’s a sprawling topic that
could easily have intimidated a lesser journalist.
She’s also an animal lover. Her menagerie: “A dog, a cat who’s living
with my parents, a fish tank with … random misfits in it, and then
we’ve also got a mouse we adopted from the Biology Department up on
campus after they finished experiments on it. Her name is Houdini. “
Emily reflected recently on her time with InvestigateWest and her
decision to go into journalism. She offers:
“The coolest thing about journalism, especially environmental
journalism, is being able to learn something new pretty much every
day. You learn lots of different things about all kinds of different
subjects. Then you get to pass on that knowledge to other people.”
Emily’s got a knack for doing that work. We wish her well.
+ Natasha Walker, a senior who is finishing her college career with an InvestigateWest internship, actually came aboard mid-summer, long before the fall quarter started, to get to work on the Flyway story.
editor of The Planet, Natasha has kicked butt on the
Flyway story and proved to be a bundle of energy. She has great
journalistic instincts, far beyond what one might expect of someone
just starting out in the business.
Natasha is learning that prying seemingly basic information out of the
government can be a trial, as she will detail in a blog post soon. But
she’s determined and she keeps digging. Bully for her!
“I have fallen in love with every subject that I study. Journalism
seems to open the door to the most things.”
Although Natasha – like other IWesters – views this as an exciting
time of great opportunity for journalism, she is realistic about the
financial state of the craft right now:
“It’s not that we don’t take journalism seriously, but I see it as —
I don’t necessarily see it as something I expect to make a profit from
and a living from. That’s hard to hear (but) I’ve never imagined my
life being 40 hours a week. It’s always been like a 60 hours a week
“I feel like I have other outlets and I feel like journalism will
always be a part of my life even if it’s freelancing.”
Together, Emily and Natasha have been doing a great job reporting out
a story examining the state of the Pacific Flyway. We’re taking a look
at the health of this artery of avian wildlife that connects western
North America as a region, including reductions in habitat and efforts
to rebuild that habitat.
Folks, if you’ve read this far, you must have an interest in
InvestigateWest, and perhaps in the flyway, so please get in touch.
We’d particularly like to hear from you if you have some ideas how we
can involved citizen journalists in examining the state of the Pacific
Flyway. But feel free to just say hi.
You can e-mail me at rmcclure (at) invw.org, Emily at elinroth (at)
invw.org, and Natasha at nwalker (at) invw.org.
— Robert McClure