Sydney Dawes

Sydney Dawes

My Athens story began years back as a college freshman working toward her journalism degree. Like many other Ohio University students, I fell in love with the area. I liked it so much, in fact, that I wanted to stay here after graduation. I was hatching plans to swing a commute to Columbus for work if I had to.

As luck would have it, a position at a nearby publication opened up as I was preparing for Commencement. I came on board with the Vinton-Jackson Courier in 2018, back when the publication was still called the Vinton County Courier. At that time, I was fresh out of college and the most rookie of rookie reporters. I was the kind of rookie who wore office attire and nice dress shoes to my first ever Wild Turkey Festival in McArthur, and I quickly learned that when it rains at the Wild Turkey Festival, it pours.

Since then, I’ve seen a lot of change and had a lot of growth. We saw the adoption of Jackson County news coverage and the change of our own name. Personally, I saw growth in my love for health reporting, and that’s a passion I hope to bring to The Athens NEWS.

My favorite project at the Courier dealt with following the story of a local group of citizens seeking clarity behind the area’s rising cancer incidence rates. In addition, I hope to carry on The Athens NEWS tradition of casting light on other issues that matter: food insecurity, holding public officials and government accountable, the ongoing budget struggles at Ohio University, and of course, the pandemic. I also love a good profile, so you may see some in print in editions to come.

I've learned a lot in the Courier editor role, getting hard lessons and many rewards. My decision to accept the position at The Athens NEWS came with both excitement and sadness. I look forward to the opportunities to come, but I will absolutely miss the one-stoplight county next door.

Granted, it’s not far away: I’ll likely still be spotted hiking on the trails in the area with my dog Arrow or having lunch at Mama Renie’s in McArthur. And to clarify, I’m not saying goodbye to Vinton County just yet. You all will have to bear with me in the coming weeks as I juggle my responsibilities of managing two publications; I’ll be maintaining my role with the Vinton-Jackson Courier until I find a replacement. Athens NEWS Associate Editor Conor Morris is assisting me in my transition before he moves on to his next chapter, and I’ve already gotten a lot of help from Terry Smith.

We’re in the process of selecting a new associate editor to pick up where Conor leaves off, and we’ve narrowed the long list of applicants to a few stellar candidates. That person will likely introduce herself or himself to you in an upcoming edition.

A little about me: I’m originally from Cedarville, Ohio. You might catch me at Casa Nueva on a weekday evening, or maybe we’ll cross paths on a hiking trail in the county. I’d love to gather recommendations on where to explore next. When I was studying at Ohio University, I wrote for a student publication called FANGLE Magazine; it sadly no longer exists. One of our claims to fame (for lack of a better phrase – we had a tiny staff and held meetings in Alden Library) was our annual concert held on Dad’s Weekend at OU. That’s another one of my hobbies: attending concerts. I think I’m at my happiest when I’m listening to local talent performing at The Union or Casa.

Moving forward, my plan is to keep the “What’s Happening” community arts calendar, “The Athens Voice” and our robust op-ed section rolling. I’m brainstorming the introduction of some other fun columns and series to add to the mix. Stay tuned.

I’m incredibly excited for what’s to come, and I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached at my new email address: sdawes@athensnews.com. Emails to Terry’s old email, news@athensnews.com, will be forwarded to my account.

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