In December, we reached out to some of our former Charlottesville Tomorrow reporters to find out where life has taken them since leaving Charlottesville. This week, we hear from Emily Hays.

Where has life taken you since leaving Charlottesville Tomorrow?
I’ve since worked at two nonprofit news organizations. In Connecticut, I covered pandemic education at the New Haven Independent. This summer, I moved to Champaign, Illinois and now work at NPR-affiliate Illinois Public Media.

How did working at Charlottesville Tomorrow help you in your career?
Charlottesville Tomorrow gave me the flexibility and support to pursue the stories about race, equity and housing affordability that I wanted to cover. I always felt that I had the time to cover subjects with the context and voices they needed. I am still very proud of the portfolio of articles I wrote at Charlottesville Tomorrow and always include a few when I apply to jobs.

What was your favorite part of working at Charlottesville Tomorrow?
Aside from the flexibility I mentioned earlier, I loved how deeply I got to know my hometown. My favorite part of journalism is always meeting those not in official political or bureaucratic roles. I like interviewing neighbors I might have otherwise never met about their lives and communities.

What is your outlook for the future of local journalism?
I think digital, nonprofit newsrooms like Charlottesville Tomorrow and the New Haven Independent are what every town needs. Unfortunately, many regions without the wealth in Charlottesville or New Haven don’t have an equivalent, or even a daily paper anymore. I would like to see more national support to cover those gaps, the way ProPublica sponsors journalists in its Local Reporting Network.

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