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Thirty-year journalism veteran most recently worked for the Statesman Journal

INDEPENDENT PHOTO: LINDSAY KEEFER - Justin Much started at the Woodburn Independent Jan. 3 as news reporter.The newest member of the Woodburn Independent team is Justin Much.

Much, whose byline may be familiar, as he has written a few stories for the Independent in recent months, began with the newspaper Jan. 3 as the full-time general news reporter.

With more than 30 years of experience in journalism, Much knows a thing or two about the business.

Growing up in the Independence area, Much got bitten by the journalism bug thanks to his dad, Joe Much, who was sports editor at the Capital Journal in Salem.

"I used to go with him when he covered sports," Much said. "Since I was 6, I felt I had a desk in a newspaper office."

Much graduated from University of Oregon with a bachelor's degree in journalism and sociology.

His degree took him around the country, doing sports writing at newspapers in Ohio, Maryland, Nevada and Missouri. He's also had plenty of experience at newspapers in Oregon, from the Albany Democrat-Herald to The World in Coos Bay to the Oregonian. But he found his way back home to the Mid-Willamette Valley, working for the Statesman Journal for the past dozen years, the last four of which were spent in the east valley, covering Stayton, Silverton and Mount Angel.

Much, who lives in Salem with his wife, Annette, as well as a dog and a cat, is excited to get to know the community of Woodburn.

"I've always been drawn by the diverse cultures that I've seen when I drive through Woodburn," Much said. "I welcome the opportunity to see that even more closely as a journalist."

Likewise, the Independent staff is happy to have him onboard.

"It's not often you can find someone of Justin's caliber for a news reporter position," Publisher Al Herriges said. "We're ecstatic about bringing in his experience and talent to round out the Independent news team."

When he's not working, Much loves to spend time traveling (including road trips and visits to the Oregon Coast), mingling with friends and strangers alike, and attending sporting events at Oregon State University.