Mason Adams covers the city of Roanoke, focusing primarily on government and neighborhood news. He also writes about state and regional politics and regularly posts to our Blue Ridge Caucus blog.
Hometown: Clifton Forge
College, major: University of Rhode Island. Wildlife biology.
Why journalism: I grew up reading the Roanoke Times and got hooked on newspapers. In college I took a class in journalism in which students were encouraged to go to work for the campus newspaper, the Good Five-Cent Cigar. I did so and loved it. Later, while working wildlife jobs in Big Sur, Calif., I took a gig freelancing for the (Monterey County) Coast Weekly and got hooked on journalism all over again. I gave myself a year to try and break into the business and was successful, ending up with my first full-time newspaper job in Waynesville, NC, several months later.
Years in journalism: 9 as a full-time journalist.
Years at The Roanoke Times | roanoke.com: 7.
Other newsrooms where you have worked: High Country News, a twice-a-month news magazine in Paonia, Colo. The Enterprise Mountaineer, a three-times-a-week community paper in Waynesville, NC.
Proudest journalism accomplishments: I’m still happy I was able to break into journalism as a full-time job. It’s not always easy to switch careers these days, especially without going back to school.
Journalists you admire and why: I admire and respect all of my colleagues in the Roanoke Times newsroom. I particularly admire Laurence Hammack, who brings a hard-working, lunchpail mentality to journalism that shows in his thorough, well-reported stories; Michael Sluss, who is meticulous in his approach to both reporting and writing; and Jenny Boone, who constantly amazes me with her ability to stay ahead of her wide-ranging, hectic retail business beat.
Outside of the Roanoke Times, I admire Matt Jenkins of High Country News, especially his coverage of western water issues. The topic is important but can come off as dry; Matt’s adept at cutting through jargon and technicalities to explain the issues in a compelling way.
I also admire the “Washington Merry-Go-Round” team of Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson, who changed the course of political journalism in the 20th century.
For opinion columnists, I regularly read David Brooks, Thomas Friedman and George Will.
Web sites you visit regularly: Politico.com; RealClearPolitics.com. I’ve bookmarked an array of local and regional blogs that I check at least weekly, too. I read news coverage by our broadcast competitors. I read GoRhody.com to follow the URI basketball team (which defeated Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum in the NIT last year). I also read sports blogs for the Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Bears.
Favorite books: Pretty much all of Ed Abbey’s non-fiction work, plus “A Fool’s Progress.” “Beggars of Life” by Jim Tully, which mentions Clifton Forge by name. “You Can’t Win” by Jack Black. “The Wild Party” by Joseph March. ”East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Pretty much any collection of Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” strip. Any “Cartoon History of the Universe/Modern World” book by Larry Gonick.
Interests outside of work: I’ve refereed roller derby for nearly four years and currently serve as a skating ref with two local derby leagues: the New River Valley Bruisin’ Burgs and the Star City Roller Girls. I’m running in the Mountain Junkies’ trail race series this year. I ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge (run 2.4 miles, eat a dozen donuts, run back, all in under an hour) in Raleigh.
I also like to hike, garden and watch birds from time to time.
Interesting fact about you that few know: I have two cats (Dumo and Zelda) and a dog (Dolly) that keep life lively for me.