Most people are afraid of making big changes and moving from Washington D.C. to Austin, Texas definitely falls under that category. However unlike most people, journalist Emilie Shaughnessy, looks at these changes more like opportunities. She pursued a career as a reporter for the Community Impact Newspaper, which covers news in the Austin, Houston, and DFW metro areas. She has always had a passion for writing and claims it was no exception when she began reporting.
“I have loved writing for as long as I can remember. When I was in college I decided to try out the journalism track and I was hooked! There are so many different types of journalism, but each one allows you to educate, to spark discussion and to tell stories that otherwise might never have been told. I liked the idea of using my writing to make a difference,” Shaughnessy said.
Shaughnessy received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Eastern University in Pennsylvania and Masters of Journalism from University of Maryland. One could say she’s been all over the map but she enjoys the traveling and meeting new people. While in graduate school she worked for the University of Maryland School of Public Health where she was a communications assistant and helped with marketing and public relations initiatives.
Shortly after, Shaughnessy landed a job as a Public Affairs Reporter for Capital News Service where she worked in a fast-paced newsroom producing multiple news stories per week. These stories primarily focused on the Maryland education system and were published by dozens of news organizations statewide. After her positive experience with public affairs Emilie Shaughnesssy had much to say about the matter.
“I think public affairs is really the heart of journalism. It delves into those issues that affect individuals on a daily basis. If you want my honest opinion I got started in public affairs journalism because it was one of the first jobs available, but I’m still reporting on local issues and local politics because I think hyperlocal news is the future of print journalism and I enjoy interacting with community members who care about what I write,” Shaughnessy said.
She then went on to become a staff writer for the Gazette of Prince George’s County where she covered cities in the Northern part of the county such as College Park, Laurel and Mount Rainier. Although currently employed by the Community Impact Newspaper Shaughnessy recalls one of her pieces printed by the Capital News Service in The Frederick News-Post. This piece titled, “Maryland health advocates push for higher cigarette tax” was released back in 2013 but was extremely relevant to the state’s revenue. The story was very informative and had sources such as the president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative and the delegate who first proposed the bill. She had statistics that let the public know due to the $1 tax increase on cigarettes the youth and adult smoking rates had reduced and the states revenue had increased by $126 million in just one year. Shaughnessy was also able to find a dozen of health organizations supporting the study such as AARP and the American Heart Association.
Now when asked about her favorite story she had worked on, she claimed it was hard to choose since she had written hundreds of articles. One story she recalled was about the rising trend for “flipping” (quickly buying, renovating then selling) homes in parts of Maryland. A trend that has quickly gained popularity and has even been made into TV shows because of it’s success, was now sweeping the cities of Maryland. One county in particular had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country and local real estate experts tied this to the flipping trend. She enjoyed working on this piece because it involved talking to national experts, analyzing lots of data and none of their competitors had the story.
Shaughnessy has not only written public affairs related articles but business articles and general local stories as well. When asked what she enjoyed most about being a reporter Emilie Shaughnessy had no hesitations, she knew right off the top of her head.
“The best part of my job is getting a behind-the-scenes look at topics that readers might not have the time or ability to investigate themselves. I make all kinds of connections, from politicians to entertainers to business-owners, and am constantly learning something new,” Shaughnessy said.
She has treasured her time at the Community Impact Newspaper and is working hard to gain a higher position. Shaughnessy looks forward to working on more investigative and enterprise pieces and continuing on to an editor or managerial role in the future—perhaps at her own publication.