Police may be getting closer to solving the 1991 murder of 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough. I was editor at the Federal Way News for 14 years and very few news events — maybe none — stick in my mind like Sarah Yarborough’s murder. It was an unthinkable loss for the family and a shattering event for the community. One day Federal Way felt free and safe. The next day it didn’t. Det. Jim Doyon visited our office about five years after the murder to provide some new detail (I don’t recall all the specifics) that he wanted us to publish in hopes of flushing out the killer. I was impressed then that the police had not given up and even more impressed now that they still haven’t. This moving story was written in 2002 by former colleague Sean Robinson.
I broke into community journalism when the school beat was the backbone of the newspaper. Schools were — and remain — a fountain of news and features that everyone can relate to whether we’re interested in test scores or football scores, tax rates or technology. In my past life as a community newspaper reporter and editor, I covered two suburban Seattle school districts, Highline and Federal Way. I can’t say that I miss attending marathon school board meetings, but I knew I was doing important work as the eyes and ears of the community – a watchdog role that is sadly disappearing as newspapers cut staff to stay afloat.
But covering meetings was just one part of the job. The best part was going into schools to write about classroom successes and challenges. Schools are exciting places to visit. Sure, you see some things that make you scratch your head, but you also see things that impress and inspire. That’s why I’m happy about a recent opportunity to write online features for the Tacoma School District – my present hometown school district. Here are a couple of links:
Be it ever so humble, this is my new home on the internet. Pretty empty right now — kind of like a first apartment. Eventually I’ll start unpacking, but after struggling all afternoon with this embarrassingly simple project, I’m done for the day — except for posting this picture of my longtime poker, fishing and newspaper buddies (from left) Steve, Eddie, Dave and Gary. Bad Hombres one and all.
“As I look back over a misspent life, I find myself more and more convinced that I had more fun doing news reporting than in any other enterprise. It is really the life of kings.” — H. L. Mencken, journalist and curmudgeon, The Baltimore Sun