Media Monday: Rhea Panela

Olivia Fuller / November 28, 2016

For this week’s Media Monday, we’d like you to meet Rhea Panela, Digital Media Editor and staff writer at the International Examiner.

Media Monday: Rhea Panela

  1. How did you find yourself at the International Examiner?
    When I was growing up, my dad would always bring home newspapers from work or from the grocery store. I grew up in Beacon Hill where there is a large Asian population, so I was exposed to Asian and Pacific Islander publications, like Northwest Asian Weekly, the International Examiner, and the Filipino American Herald. In the spring of my junior year at UW, I decided to reach out for an internship at the International Examiner. After my internship ended, I started working as their Digital Media Editor and also as a staff writer.
  1. Which of your stories are you most proud of?
    I loved working on a story about a former Seattle Public Schools teacher and Tongan immigrant, Lynette Finau, who also serves as commissioner on the Washington State Commission of Asian Pacific American Affairs. She was a guest speaker in my Asian Pacific Islander Women Studies class a couple years ago, and when I reached out to her again for an interview, I learned so much more on a deeper level. I was touched by how passionate she was about bringing more Pacific Islander teachers into classrooms because of how the lack of representation was negatively affecting Pacific Islander students. I was also able to get the perspectives of her children who were both UW athletes and I learned that much of Finau’s work in the classroom intersects with the values she taught her own children.
  1. What is your favorite thing about your job?
    The best part about my job is learning so much about the Asian and Pacific Islander communities and the International District. My parents lived in the International District before I was born and they also worked in the Alaskan fish canneries in the eighties, so being able to connect my own family’s history with the history of people in the neighborhood generations before is heartwarming. I learned about the labor unions, API artists and activists, and how homeless camps are affecting the communities that live in the International District. Most people only hear about these kinds of things in their classes or at a museum, but I’m actually working in an area that carries so much of that rich history and diversity. What I love the most is that I’m also learning about myself at the same time because I can relate to a lot of the stories that I read in the International Examiner.
  1. What is your interview style?
    I think I’m still trying to figure it out because each interviewee is different. I always try to ask questions that dig below the surface level of a subject. I look for emotions and answers that come from the heart, not something that I could easily find by searching online or asking a secondary source.
  1. What do you look for in a story?
    I look for opportunities to give a voice to the communities that are underrepresented or largely absent from mainstream media, and to share moments that readers can relate to.
  1. What is your day like at your job?
    Sometimes I work in the office but I also work from home. The first thing I do is check my email inbox and see which time-sensitive stories and announcements I need to post on our website first. After the story is posted online, I share it on all of our social media platforms.
  1. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
    I have many role models, but it was Lisa Ling who solidified my decision to go into journalism. Her tenacity to pursue and share stories despite the risks involved inspired me to go into the field with the same mindset.
  1. What is your favorite news outlet?
    I can’t choose just one! The Seattle Times, KING5 News, the Seattle Globalist, NBC Nightly News.
  2. Fill in the blank:
    If I am not reporting, I am…Looking for internships and post-college jobs. Or watching Netflix.
    If I could interview anyone, it would be…President Obama or Angelina Jolie.
    My favorite thing about Seattle is…The city skyline, especially at night! Also, the Seahawks.
  3. What is your guilty pleasure?
    All of my closest friends know the answer to this one: Hot Cheetos.
Olivia Fuller GIF

Olivia Fuller

Account Executive

Olivia is a passionate multimedia communicator with experience in journalism, audio and video production and social media. She assists with public relations at The Fearey Group as an assistant account executive. She is a recent graduate of the University of Washington, where she earned her degree in journalism and political science with a minor in international studies. During her college years, she interned at the Seattle Globalist, My Edmonds News and KING 5 News and served as the executive producer of The Daily Video at UW. As a Colorado native and resident of Seattle, her recipe for survival depends on outdoor adventures, music shows and coffee.