Even after 6 years as a reporter, Allison Petty is still experiencing new things every day.
As she puts it, “I could find myself at the zoo one morning, and then a city council meeting that night.” But this wide variety in her day-to-day career could be the very thing that drives her passion for journalism. “It’s important to nurture our curiosity” she says.
While in high school, Allison was passionate about English and writing. Her teachers always encouraged her to try journalism, so while at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, she decided to join the student-run newspaper, The Daily Egyptian.
At first, she was unsure if it was right for her. “The first month or so I didn’t think I was going to take to it, I was shy and didn’t want to talk to people,” she admitted. But Allison was not a quitter; she stuck with it and, soon enough, fell in love. By 2008, she held the position of Editor-in-Chief.
In July of 2010, when she was only 23, Allison began her position as a reporter for The Decatur Herald & Review, where she has further developed her passion and commitment for local journalism.
In the modern generation of social media and fast technological progression, Allison thrives. In 2014, the Illinois Associated Press Association awarded her first place in “Best Use of Social Media by an Individual” for her Twitter page. Bridget Sibthorp-Moecker, the Regional Digital Director at Herald & Review, agrees that Allison’s use of social media is exceptional. She says, “By looking at her Twitter feed and Facebook page, you’ll notice that Allison is an incredible team player; constantly promoting and applauding the work of her colleagues.”
But it’s no surprise that Allison is a great co-worker; she loves working with others. At Herald & Review, her favorite projects are those that involve all different people—from videographers, to reporters, to photographers.
Allison sees Twitter and other social media outlets as an opportunity to reach a broader audience and create connections. She utilizes social media professionally; often updating her journalist Facebook account and posting live Tweets from Decatur city council meetings.
“I think it’s important for our readers to feel personally connected to us, and social media allows us to do that in a way that we couldn’t before,” she says. It can also expand audiences. “On Twitter, you reach people you may not have reached with a traditional paper.”
Allison’s upbeat personality, commitment and ability to collaborate exemplify her positive influence among young journalists of today. She realizes the value of every last piece; “Every story has someone that it matters very greatly to, and it’s important to find that person.”
News Media Alliance announced the winners of its first “Top 30 Under 30” Awards program at mediaXchange 2016 in April, which honors young leaders working in every aspect of the news media who are contributing to the future success of the industry. Over the next several weeks we will feature profiles on the winners, highlighting their work and ideas, and how they’re helping the industry grow and evolve.
Emma Benninghoff is a student and former communications intern at News Media Alliance.