- How did you find yourself as a reporter at the Ellensburg Daily Record?
Stepping out of the classroom and into the field is a jarring experience, especially with the tight schedule that a daily paper like the Ellensburg Daily Record will have you keep. Developing a news beat in a new town and making new contacts from scratch is a challenge, as is keeping up with the webwork of county law. I make mistakes, I learn, and I pick myself up as best I can. It’s a privilege to work for such a beloved institution older than most people alive today.
- Which of your stories are you most proud of?
As part of Politico’s ten-day Journalism Institute this summer, I wrote a story on some states’ experimentation with alternatives to the gas tax. Right now, states across the country are launching pilot programs for a pay by the mile tracking system to pay for roadway repairs as more fuel-efficient vehicles hit the road that’s sparked a debate over personal data and privacy.
I talked to half a dozen different people for the story and dig through dozens of documents for the story, so I can say that it challenged me to do deeper reporting. Mostly, the story represents the overall fantastic experience I had at Politico for the better part of that summer.
- What is your favorite thing about your job?
As early into my career as I am, all I can say is that I’m glad to call myself a professional journalist. I’m sure I’ll discover a lot more.
- What is your interview style?
My interview style really depends on the person being interviewed — I try and match their tone and manner as much as is appropriate for the subject matter and setting. A public affairs story is going to demand the kind of dry, informational lead-ins that political news often requires. Writing a biographical piece might benefit from a more conversation tone akin to playing a poor man’s therapist. It all depends on the story you plan on writing or where your interviewee may take you in your discussion.
- What do you look for in a story?
As one of my editors told me not so long ago, I always try to look for the stakeholders in a story. Who will this headline affect the most? Why do they care? What will happen to them because of it? Those three questions make up the dividing line between stories that need to be told and those that do not.
- Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
I believe David Cay Johnston’s diverse career illustrates the merits of investigative journalism like few others do. Public finance and regulatory law may not be the trendiest topics you can write about, but Johnston’s gone to great lengths to show how relevant it is not only in our current economy, but the profit-driven world that is currently journalism. His book, “The Making of Donald Trump,” is probably the most critical biographies I have read in a long time and duly insightful for the time we live in.
- What is a day like at your job?
An average day in my job is reminiscent of any office work. I clock in at work, check my email, make some phone calls, pour myself a hot cup of coffee (or two or three). Whenever I do get up from my desk, I might be walking across the street to the county courthouse or city hall to report on a public meeting or driving an hour down the road to cover some of the local wildfires we had earlier this summer. The hours vary wildly from day to day, but so long as my work is meaningful, it’s rarely boring.
- What is your favorite news outlet?
The New Yorker is probably the smartest, wittiest outlet behind some of my favorite narrative non-fiction in print or on the internet. Its long-form non-fiction, satire, and deep reporting are often like reading novellas than conventional news in the most invigorating way possible. From Elisabeth Zerofsky’s recent “How a German Newspaper Became the Go-To Place for Leaks Like the Paradise Papers” to Sam Corin’s “Actual Reasons I’d Like to Add You to my Professional Network on LinkedIn,” the New Yorker’s incredible literary range and insight always keeps me reading.
- Fill in the blank:
- If I am not reporting, I am…reading something about Star Wars.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be…Nikola Tesla.
- My favorite thing about Washington is…the coffee.
- What is your guilty pleasure?
Check out last week’s Meet the Media where we spotlighted Haley Donwerth, Freelance Journalist at The Peninsula Gateway.
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