Douglas County lost a fine newsman Saturday. That was the day City Editor Don Jenkins turned in his key to The News-Review with plans to head up Interstate 5.
Don isn’t leaving journalism. He’s headed back to his home state of Washington, back to the job that drew so many of us to this occupation. He’s going to be a reporter again, this time at the Capital Press.
He’s moving from what many consider the best job in the newsroom, city editor, to what was my favorite job in the newsroom: reporter.
During the last four years the local news reported in this newspaper had a lot of influence from Don Jenkins.
You see, city editor is a bit of a misnomer. Well, in Douglas County anyway. In this county, that covers 5,000 square miles from the coast to the Cascades, the city editor must know what’s going on everywhere, whether it involves law enforcement, fire departments, the justice system, municipal governments, schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, recreation, entertainment … You get the idea, basically everything.
That’s why the city editor is really a “local news editor” but that title is a mouthful, and city editor is the old-fashioned newspaper terminology we like.
Fortunately, the city editor is kept up to date on those topics by the other journalists on our staff, particularly our full-time reporters Carisa Cegavske, Christina George, Jessica Prokop and Garrett Andrews (Kate Stringer joins us next week), along with our Features/Business Editor Craig Reed. As the editor over the entire newsroom, I offer plenty of opinions on what’s news and should be reported as well.
But each publishing day for The News-Review for the past four years, it was Don Jenkins who suggested what local stories should be displayed on the front page of The News-Review. And it was he who worked side-by-side with the reporters to produce those stories. That’s what a city editor does.
I know the routine well. I did the job for eight years. I know how hard Don worked. It would be a shame for him to leave town without me publicly acknowledging the outstanding job he’s done with the local news in our newspaper.
Every morning Don showed up for work ready to report the facts and to tell the stories of Douglas County residents. He was always dressed for the part. He wore a long-sleeved, button-down shirt and tie every day— there are no casual Fridays in Don’s genes.
On Don’s watch, the newsroom has been a watchdog, sometimes a cheerleader, but always a reflection of its community in words and pictures.
Don worked diligently to make every word meaningful, every sentence precise and every story no longer than it needed to be.
He improved the writing and reporting in this newspaper over the past four years.
We have a staff of driven young reporters who have moved to Roseburg to do good journalism and enjoy life in the Umpqua Valley. They will carry with them the lessons Don has taught them.
While coaching young reporters, as well as experienced ones, Don earned his own recognition. He was the best editorial writer in the state and region in 2012. His contributions helped the staff win awards for enterprise reporting, comprehensive series and public service journalism — one of the awards that makes me the most proud.
I’m pleased to have worked with Don Jenkins. He probably won’t like that I’ve sung his praises. But I hired him. I’m proud to have done so, and that means I get the last word.
Keep up the great work Don! Thanks for hanging out in Roseburg for awhile and caring so much about putting out a high-quality newspaper.
News-Review Editor Vicki Menard has worked with about 10 city editors since she first started working at The News-Review 31 years ago. She can be reached at email@example.com or 541-957-4203.