After graduating from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government, he spent time as a VISTA volunteer on the northern Olympic Peninsula -- "In the pre-'Twilight' days," he says -- before deciding to pursue his lifelong passion for writing.
Now, 22 years later, Jackson's penchant for community involvement and love of writing have merged into one job.
Jackson recently was named editorial page editor of The Herald. He replaces Bob Bolerjack, who left the newspaper in June after nearly 10 years in the position.
"I have Everett roots and I've always been a fan of The Herald," Jackson said.
Although he went to high school and college on the East Coast, Jackson lived in Everett "off and on" as a youth and later as an adult.
He most recently wrote for Crosscut, an online political and cultural magazine based in Seattle. His commentaries won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
He's also served on a number of community boards, including the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, the North Cascades Institute, and the regional leadership council of the National Parks Conservation Association.
At The Herald, Jackson joins publisher David Dadisman, assistant to the publisher Kim Heltne and editorial writer Carol MacPherson on the newspaper's editorial board. He is responsible for the content of The Herald's editorial pages.
"This community has always been special to me," Jackson said, "so it's kind of special to have a platform where you can debate issues and float ideas."
Jackson said Bolerjack "did a wonderful job" as editorial page editor, and he doesn't plan to make any major changes -- at least not right away.
When social, civic and political problems are identified, Jackson wants to use the editorial pages of The Herald to offer solutions. He also wants to shine the spotlight on the things that local people are doing right.
"The editorial page can publicize best practices and highlight the good in the community that goes unreported," he said.
When he's away from his keyboard, Jackson enjoys hiking in the North Cascades, playing the ukulele, listening to old Woody Guthrie recordings and going to movies with his wife. Several years ago, Jackson showed up to claim his ticket to the Seattle International Film Festival only to disappoint the event staff, who were hoping to meet the famed "Lord of the Rings" director of the same name.
"I get criticized for 'Lord of the Rings' all the time," Jackson said with a smile. "I keep telling them I am going to make it up to them with 'The Hobbit.'"
Each week, Here at the Herald provides an inside peek at the newspaper. Is there something you would like to know? Email executive editor Neal Pattison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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