Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Position: Regional Reporter (Dodge, Mower, Fillmore Counties)
So, what do you do exactly?
I’m a Regional Reporter. I mostly cover Mower, Dodge, and Fillmore Counties. There, I write about almost anything and everything under the sun from city and county government to school board to business to health, you name it. I also do quite a bit of video production and photography on the side whenever needed.
What time do you show up for work?
It really depends on what the day’s schedule looks like. As Regional Reporter, I have additional responsibilities to come in at around 6:30 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays to do clean up on any stories that may have broken over night. Other times, if I have a late night meeting say in Austin, then I’d come in way later in the day like around noon. So, really, it’s always different every week.
What has been your favorite story to report on this year?
I don’t know for sure if it’s considered a favorite, but one of the more memorable stories was driving down to Mason City, Iowa, with my photographer for a seven-hour city council meeting regarding a highly contentious agenda item involving a hog processing plant. We had to drive two hours back to Rochester and I had to pull an all-nighter for my story to make the next morning’s paper.
Why is local journalism important?
Try to imagine staying informed on the issues before a city council or school board without your local journalists covering their meetings and asking questions while presenting some analysis for debate and discussion in your hometown. Local newspapers have been traditionally the heart and soul of your town’s culture and identity. They reflect your values, businesses, and challenge assumptions while shining the light on the truth. Support your local newspaper, keep being informed.
Where do you go to de-stress in Rochester?
I’m a simple stay-at-home kind of person. I like to watch Netflix and crack open a book. I’m definitely in my happy place though when I get to go to Quarry Hill and do some nature photography.
If you had $30 to spend in the city, where would you go first?
Book stores or thrift stores. Then call it a day with a cup of coffee.
Last great book you read?
“And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie. I’ve been really getting into the murder-mysteries as of late.
One issue from your ‘beat’ you think everyone should pay more attention to?
Frankly, all of it. While many of the other reporters are more specialized in their beats, stories are often more Rochester-centric, and the focus sometimes ignores outer towns like Kasson, West Concord, Austin, Grand Meadow or even Kenyon-Wanamingo. Southeast Minnesota has so many more communities, issues, and stories that are important to the people who live there. It’s imperative to understand that the world is bigger than where you live.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Never let anyone else tell you that you can’t do “x, y, and z” just because you’re young or for any other reason. You do the best you can with the talents you have. Be bold, be daring, be courageous, and be kind.
What inspired you to get into journalism?
I wanted more representation of Asian-Americans and people of color in our newsrooms. My parents— who immigrated from South Korea to give me and my brother a better chance at life— really instilled the importance of pursuing whatever dreams you do have and making them come true. I treasure my freedom of the press and free speech, and therefore, will defend your rights as well.