This month, we’re happy to introduce you to John Penney, Engagement/Opinion Editor of The Poughkeepsie Journal. With his finger on the pulse of the ever-changing news landscape, John constantly works to provide readers with top-notch opinion on the news and stories important to Hudson Valley readers, and beyond.
John, thanks for being our guest this month. Can you tell us a bit more about the Poughkeepsie Journal and its storied history?
The Poughkeepsie Journal’s roots go back to 1785, making it the second oldest newspaper in the nation. Only the Hartford Courant is older. The “Country Journal and The Poughkeepsie Advertiser” began publishing on Thursday, Aug. 11, 1785.
What brought you into the field of journalism?
My dad was a copy editor for the New York Daily News. He died when I was 5. I’d always wanted to go into journalism. I used to come home from my Little League games and type up stories about them as if they were going to be published somewhere. I have always considered this profession to be some unsettled family business, considering my dad died so young.
What are your favorite stories to share with Poughkeepsie Journal readers?
Well, the uplifting stories are nice, the stories of people overcoming obstacles and defying the odds. I also like to share with readers things that I think are not getting enough in-depth coverage anywhere else – such as entire interviews with policymakers and others that we cover live on our website.
Name one fun fact that the average reader would not know about you.
At one time, I could juggle a soccer ball more than 1,000 times without letting it drop. I was the captain of my college soccer team. I can still juggle a little bit – but not to a 1,000!
How do you think news outlets can best respond to the changes in how people consume news? What has the Poughkeepsie Journal done to keep up?
Be digital and be nimble. It’s imperative to not only adapt to change but to try to get ahead of the curve and anticipate what is coming next. It’s a challenge because we are still putting out a newspaper. I still love newspapers, but I know it’s imperative that I spend as much time as possible with the digital aspects of our work – the website, the videos, the mobile experience etc.
Tell us – we promise not to hold it against you – what’s your biggest PR pet peeve?
PR people who are not informed, who don’t take rudimentary steps to find out what the Poughkeepsie Journal is and how it works. The second would be PR people who are trying to push stories that clearly are not news and then have a problem when you explain to them why what they are pitching is not news.
How many hashtags are too many? (All of us at Impact are looking to impose a legal limit.)
#GreatQuestion! I am not sure. Probably three? It’s important to have the right hashtag, or as I like to say #QualityOverQuantity!
What do you love about living and working in the Hudson Valley?
Everything. Seriously. I love my family and friends, my co-workers, the landscape, the rail trails, the restaurants, you name it. It’s great to be able to cover a place that you love so much. Honestly, it is why I have never left after coming to the Poughkeepsie Journal in 1998.
Name one “hidden Hudson Valley gem” that all locals and visitors ought to check out.
Duck Pond at the Mohonk Preserve. It’s less crowded than the Undercliff/Overcliff loop that draws the attention of rock climbers, bikers and hikers. Duck Pond is south of Skytop, but you can get there by bike or by foot from the Preserve’s main destinations.
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