Roundup Adds Two Reporters To Staff

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Suzanne Jacobson dances with Bob Hughes at the Rye Bar and Grill for a Rim Review story.

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Photo courtesy Jack Quinn

Alexis Bechman interviews Paul Daniels after he won a Tonto Rim Search and Rescue raffle.

Two new faces have joined the Roundup staff, Suzanne Jacobson and Alexis Bechman.

Jacobson, 26, joined the paper in July as the education and county government reporter.

She is originally from southern New Jersey, but has lived all across the country.

She graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s in journalism. At Temple, Jacobson wrote for the Temple News, as a general news reporter.

After graduating in 2005, Jacobson moved to Hawaii for five months to work on an organic farm and write a book about her experience. The farm turned out to be more of a fruit stand sham.

After the farm proved to be bogus, Jacobson decided to travel the world and write books about her experiences, but realized she needed to return home first to gather funding.

While at home, Jacobson realized her dream of travel writing might be premature and decided instead to move to Portland, Ore.

Jacobson applied for and got a reporting position in Plains, Mont., population 1,500, in January 2007.

“I worked hard, mostly because there was nothing else to do, and was promoted in four months to another newspaper in Kellogg, Idaho, population big enough to have a Walmart, where I covered city and county government,” Jacobson said.

In January 2008, Jacobson was promoted to a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho paper, population 42,000, where she was a general assignment reporter.

“I’ve always liked to write, but journalism is about so much more than writing,” Jacobson said. “It’s about asking good questions and better follow-up questions. Learning the art of journalism is daunting, but at its best, journalism functions as defending democracy — on a deadline.”

A serendipitous twist brought Alexis Bechman to journalism, and the thrill of the twirl has kept her there.

After requesting a position working on her Tucson high school yearbook, Bechman, the Roundup’s newest reporter, was told there was no slot. The newspaper, however, had a position.

Bechman, 23, enjoyed her work as a photography editor and page designer, but still didn’t plan on a journalism career.

“I was also in student council. It wasn’t like I had plans of being president,” Bechman said. Instead, she used her high school years, and later her time at the University of Arizona, to discover a career that also offered personal fulfillment.

She double majored in journalism, and retailing and consumer sciences, and minored in business.

“I was getting my retail degree and I realized I didn’t want to do that for a job,” Bechman said.

During college, Bechman interned at the Arizona Daily Star as a reporter, worked at the college paper, and interned at the local ABC affiliate to learn broadcast journalism.

Broadcast journalism, Bechman said, veered toward the superficial, but the daily challenge of print journalism intrigued her.

“It’s hard. I didn’t choose this job because I wanted an easy job. I wanted to be challenged every day and learn new things,” Bechman said.

The main difference, she says, between working on a college paper and being a professional journalist, is mostly in one’s head. In school, “it’s almost like you’re playing reporter.”

At the Roundup, Bechman covers cops and courts, the town of Star Valley, and business.

“I like covering cops the most,” Bechman said, adding that she also likes meeting residents and immersing herself in situations she would otherwise not have access to — watching a K-9 cop training session, for instance. She enjoys “going out and talking to people that I would never meet and learning new things that I would never learn.

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