Amy Denney

Media Minds: Amy Denney

At Red Fan we know the importance of cultivating solid relationships with local journalists, so we recently connected with Amy Denney, editor of Community Impact Northwest, a hyper-local newspaper covering the city’s latest comings and goings on everything from restaurants and retail to transportation and business development.

A little background info on Amy…

Amy Denney joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010 and is the editor for the Northwest Austin market and also the transportation beat reporter. In Chicago, Amy worked for three years at a weekly publication with the Sun-Time Media Group. Amy hails from Kansas City, Missouri and graduated from Truman State University. She is also an avid Royals and Chiefs fan. She and her husband, Scotty, enjoy playing board games and trying out local Austin and Texas beer.

Now let’s see what makes Amy tick…

What makes Austin such a good place to be a journalist?

Austin has a lot of great media competition from the daily and weeklies to the well-known blogs. It's a healthy competition that not every city has, and I think it makes me a better journalist to raise the bar higher on my standards. The city also has a very talented and well-educated population, so I get to work on a lot of complex articles.

What makes a good story?

So many things. In news stories, which is most of what I write, accuracy is of utmost importance. We fact check everything so that what goes online or in print is reliable. Second is relevance to your audience and making a compelling reason why readers should care about the subject. We also place an emphasis on explaining issues in a way that both the average Joe and well-educated reader can understand and stay informed.

How did you get your start?

After college I was so determined to live in Chicago that I bet I emailed more than 100 people asking to have coffee with them in hopes they would want to hire me. I got two interviews with two different weekly publications at the Sun Times Media. Ironically, one hired me but the other didn't. After three years and three months, I decided I had enough of the Chicago winters. My uncle lives in Austin, and one of his friends told me how she thought Community Impact Newspaper would be a perfect fit for me. She was right.

What's your biggest pet peeve as a journalist?

First annual. I just cringe whenever someone sends me an email and uses the phrase first annual.

What story do you wish you could have covered?

I was working in Chicago when President Obama was first elected. Sadly, I was not selected as one of the staff members who got to go to Grant Park when we found out Obama was first elected. I was stuck at the office covering a local election. I was so bummed to miss out on covering the local aspect of that momentous event.

What story has been the most rewarding to tell?

This is probably the hardest question to answer because I've met so many people with amazing stories to share. For the past couple of years I've been on the transportation beat, and I've really enjoyed covering the Project Connect regional transportation plan and Austin urban rail story. It's a contentious issue with many facets and can get pretty complicated. I enjoy trying to figure out how explain the real issues in a way that readers understand the impact on them. Often it has meant being the only reporter at very long Friday afternoon meetings, but people notice the dedication.

When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?

I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but I didn't discover journalism until college. I honestly chose communications with an emphasis in journalism for my major because it sounded like something I would like. I guess journalism really found me. Also, I knew a career as a poet probably wouldn't work out for me.

What famous historical figure do you wish you could have interviewed and why?

Emily Dickinson. She's my favorite poet, and I would love to pick her brain about her form and style.

If you weren't in journalism, what would you be doing?

I cannot imagine a job where I wasn't writing every single day.

What's your favorite thing about living in Austin?

Except for the days where the thermostat soars past 100 degrees, I love the weather. You can be outside all year round.

Favorite Austin restaurant?

Hands down the best meal I've had in Austin is at Foreign & Domestic. But typically you can find my husband and I at Pinthouse Pizza or Austin Beer Garden Brewery because both have great pizza and make their own beer. We love their atmospheres and always take a deck of cards to play a game of Rummy.

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