Hello Vinton and Benton County

By CJ Eilers, County Editor

My name is CJ Eilers and I have the pleasure of being the County Editor and Digital Journalist for Vinton Newspapers. I am eager to begin my work in earnest and am excited to learn more about a community I’ve visited numerous times over the past two years.

I originally hail from Ankeny, where I graduated from Ankeny High School in 2010. Honestly, I wasn’t certain about what I wanted to do with my life after walking across the stage with my 470+ classmates, so I attended Des Moines Area Community College for two years to find out. It was during a summer campus visit that I noticed their small college newspaper, The Campus Chronicle, tucked away in one of the main buildings. Journalism had always intrigued me, but I had never spoken up about actually joining a publication. Everyone told me college was about new beginnings, so I expressed interest in taking the class associated with the Campus Chronicle.

Next thing I knew, I became a staff writer and later would serve as Editor-In-Chief of the paper my second year at DMACC. I decided to continue down my journalism path at Iowa State University, writing for the Iowa State Daily and SIR, a relatively new men’s magazine on campus at the time. Both publications allowed me to explore news coverage, but mainly entertainment reporting, which I was intent on pursuing. I graduated from Iowa State with my major in Journalism and minor in History in December of 2014. For the next year, I waited tables and was always looking for my first journalism adventure.

My first reporting opportunity came with The News-Review in Keokuk County, where I lived in the county seat of Sigourney. For two wonderful years, I covered county and local news for The News-Review and its sister paper, The Keota Eagle. My duties consisted of covering five school districts, attending city meetings, reporting on the county and writing about the people in the small communities which dotted the county. I enjoyed learning what it took to be a community journalist with my first position and made lots of memories I won’t soon forget.

In April of 2018, I moved up north to Tama County to cover the communities of Dysart and Traer, as well as the school districts of North Tama and Union. I continued to develop my voice as a news writer while adding sports reporting to my repertoire. My coverage of Union brought me to Benton County on many occasions for games and I got to know Vinton Newspaper employees such as Dustin Dawson and currently Morgan McMullen.

I enjoyed my time covering Tama County immensely, yet my work opened doors to Vinton I could not ignore. As of the beginning of February, I now call Morgan (aka McMuffin) a co-worker and am now the County Editor.

My duties will focus on what makes Vinton unique and interesting, but will also take me across Benton County for stories from its communities and school districts. I will also be assisting with sports reporting on occasion, as I enjoyed the experience in recent years. My coverage will include county news, local interest pieces, special sections and what’s happening at the schools. I’m thrilled to think about all the possible stories to be written this year and ready to get right into this.

When I’m not writing articles or engaging in interviews, I enjoy good food, spending time with family back in Ankeny and run a developing photography business, Reimagined Eye, shooting senior photos and “just-for-fun” sessions. I’m an avid Cyclone fan and Star Wars will always be near and dear to my heart. Please, no questions about my thoughts on the current Disney trilogy.

News tips are welcome at our office and I look forward to getting to know Vinton and Benton County communities better over the next several months. If you see me out at an event or shooting sports photos at a game, please feel free to come up and say hi. I look forward to our time together and for the memories that lie ahead as your County Editor and Digital Journalist. Thank you.