In our “Behind the Scenes” blog series, get to know our amazing team of dynamic journalists who make the Energy News Network possible. This month, we profile Lacey Johnson who contributes her work from Washington, DC and has been with Energy News Network since 2016. Lacey takes us coast to coast as she shares her journalistic experience and coverage.
Tell us about your reporting background thus far?
After a couple newsroom internships, I began freelancing full-time in 2012. Since then, I have covered a range of stories for Reuters—everything from murder trials to Black Lives Matter protests to spelling bees. On the energy front, I’m a regular contributor to Greentech Media, and I started writing the daily U.S. Energy News digest for the Energy News Network in 2016.
How did you decide to become a journalist?
I started my journalism career as a photojournalist. Photography is something I’ve been interested in since high school. I love hearing and telling real-life stories, so it seemed like a natural fit. In 2007, I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography and I spent a couple years doing the starving artist thing in Los Angeles. When the recession hit in 2009, I decided it was a good time to expand my skillset, so I applied to graduate school for journalism.
You mentioned attending graduate school for journalism. How did you get your start in reporting?
Before I started graduate school, I moved back home to West Virginia and worked as a multimedia journalist for a non-profit. It was the first time I was paid to write, report and record interviews—not just take pictures. I travelled all over the state hearing people’s stories for six months. I really enjoyed it.
After graduate school I landed an internship writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, DC, followed by a six-month fellowship at E&E Publishing, where I wrote about climate change. The rest is history.
What sparked your interest in energy journalism?
I grew up in Huntington, WV where my mother constantly took me to anti-mountaintop removal rallies as a kid. I believe that’s probably what sparked my interest in energy and environmental issues.. I began writing seriously about energy at E&E. My beat was climate change, but I also wrote features on net-zero buildings, energy efficiency, LED lights and solar NIMBY-ism. Midwest Energy News picked up one of my stories from that time and that was my first introduction to the Energy News Network.
What is a typical day for you as a working journalist?
I wake up bright and early to send out the U.S. Energy News digest for the Energy News Network. After that I may head out to report on a story for Greentech Media or Reuters, or I might spend the day writing from home. I still work as a photojournalist too, so there’s a good chance I’ll end up shooting an event and or editing photos.
What is one of the most challenging or interesting stories you have covered?
A few years ago, I spent three weeks reporting on a criminal trial in Delaware for Reuters. The commute was over 100 miles each way and because I was the closest journalist, I got the job. The defendant was a pediatrician accused of waterboarding his stepdaughter to punish her. The subject matter was pretty dark, but I love true-crime dramas. There were a lot of twists and turns in the case, and this criminal trial is still one of the most interesting stories I have ever covered.
What comes easiest to you as a freelance journalist?
My favorite part is the reporting. Getting paid to hear people’s stories and learn new things is the best!
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