14 May To New Journalist of the Year honoree Natalie St. John, journalism is a second career
As a child, Natalie St. John dreamed of being a journalist. When she was in third grade, she informed her mother she intended to become a war correspondent.
But it wasnâ€™t until after Natalie was laid off as a public school teacher in 2010 that she decided to pursue her dream job.
â€œI just thought: I already know what it is like to work in an industry with few opportunities and little pay, so I thought I would be a photojournalist and a writer.â€
Natalie is a staff photographer and reporter covering the environmental and minority affairs beats at The Daily News in Longview, Wash. She is being honored as New Journalist of the Year by the Western Washington Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
During her short career, Natalie has examined dubious claims by a foreign mining company that the area around Mt. St. Helens National Monument contains valuable minerals ready for extraction. She has also documented how a lax culture of enforcement has allowed Lewis County to become a safe haven for puppy mills. Natalieâ€™s fluency in Spanish has also allowed her to tell stories in her local Latino community that few reporters can access.
â€œNatalie joined our newspaper staff a little over a year ago. In that short time, her resourcefulness, curiosity and drive have enabled her to produce solid reports on issues that had been in the news for some time but had escaped many other reportersâ€™ scrutiny,â€ wrote her nominator.
In her coverage, Natalie strives to combine her love of investigative journalism and documentary photography to tell comprehensive stories the way she wants to tell them. It wouldnâ€™t be possible without the guidance of her colleagues and the mentorship of her city editor, who noticed her talents and offered her a job after Natalie independently covered news events alongside professional reporters.
Natalie admits it is not easy work, but she is happy to be living her dream and doing what she loves.
â€œI am absolutely thrilled to be doing this every day â€“ but payday.â€
Natalie will receive the New Journalist of the Year award along with Lynsi Burton and Brian Rosenthal at the SPJ Awards Gala Saturday. A few spots are left; get your tickets today!