LONG BEACH — The Chinook Observer recently added an award-winning new staff reporter.
Alyssa Evans, 22, formerly of Bellingham, began working at the paper on July 9.
Evans graduated from Western Washington University in June with a double-major in journalism and sociology. At the Observer, she will cover local government, social issues and a variety of other topics.
An early start
Evans knew she wanted to be a writer from an early age. As a kid, she and a friend published a periodic “newspaper.” Her early forays into journalism weren’t especially hard-hitting — her readership consisted mostly of her parents, and there weren’t any big scoops.
“It wasn’t anything substantial,” she joked.
She briefly considered becoming an English teacher when she started college, but a freshman career exploration course quickly convinced her that she’d be happier in a newsroom. Once she made up her mind, she committed fully to her chosen vocation, serving in a variety of roles including reporter, online editor and daily news editor at Western Front, the school’s newspaper, and Klipsun, the school’s magazine. She served as editor-in-chief at both publications, while freelancing for the Lynden Tribune and working for the university’s Extended Education marketing department.
Evans earned several awards for her work, including one for having the most bylines when she published about twice as many articles as any other student journalist in her class. She was also nominated for the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Mark of Excellence” award for her breaking-news coverage of the 2016 mass shooting at Cascade Mall in Burlington. The WWU journalism faculty gave her the “Outstanding Grad” award in June.
On the job
Evans, who grew up in Bonney Lake, knew she’d like the Peninsula because her family vacationed here when she was growing up. She also liked the idea of starting her career in a smaller community, because she feels she’ll be able to tackle bigger stories and have more impact than she might if she joined the staff of a big-city paper. She had other job offers. But, she said, the Observer job “was the first one I was really excited about.”
Evans immersed herself in her work immediately, covering an hours-long candidate forum on her second day on the job. Between assignments, she’s been exploring different parts of the county.
Exploring Pacific County
The abundant wildlife is one local feature that made a big impression. The first time she drove over the Astoria-Megler bridge, she saw several seals popping out of the water. On a more recent walk, she was surprised to see hundreds of jellyfish washed up on the beach.
“I’ve never seen that many all at once,” she said.
She’s also enjoying exploring her childhood vacation spot as an adult.
“It’s been fun being a tourist, even though I’m technically a resident now,” Evans said.