#MediaMonday – Ellen O’Brien

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Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from Ellen O’Brien, reporter and photographer at the Jewish News.  The Jewish News covers news of interest to and about the Jewish community throughout the Valley.

So, Ellen, time to share!

Tell us how you got your start in writing? Tell us your story!

I’ve always loved writing. Growing up, I was usually working on one fantasy novels or another, and when I applied for college, I looked for a major where writing would still be a big part of my life. Since I also loved reading the newspapers and magazines that my parents kept around our house (the Arizona Republic, The Atlantic, The Economist), I decided to pursue journalism – and here I am!

Tell us how you came to start working in the Valley media scene?

I grew up in Chandler and attended the Walter Cronkite School at ASU, so when I graduated in 2019, I naturally started looking for jobs in the area.

And how did you come to this outlet?

It was a lucky coincidence: the Jewish News had an opening for a staff writer, and I was looking for my first full-time job! It matters a lot to me that I write stories my readers actually care about, and in community journalism, the readers are very invested in what you write. While I’m not Jewish, my fiancé is, and reporting on the community over the last nine months has been a great way for me to learn more about him and get more involved his family’s beliefs and traditions.

Tell us about the outlet and types of story pitches you want?

We’re a very localized weekly publication with a small staff that serves the Jewish community in Greater Phoenix and northern Arizona (Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, etc.). Pitch us the local angle and the Jewish angle of your story, whether that’s an impact on the Jewish community, a local business owner or artist with a Jewish background, or a partnership with one of our local Jewish organizations.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in West Des Moines, IA, but moved to Chandler with my family when I was seven. I spent most of my childhood in the East Valley: going to school in Chandler, hanging out with friends in Gilbert, visiting my dad’s office at the ASU Tempe campus and heading up to Scottsdale to see an indie movie at the old Harkins Camelview theater.

Favorite type of music?

My favorite music is mainly alternative and indie rock. I love Modest Mouse, the White Stripes, the Silversun Pickups, Spoon and the Black Keys. I’m currently obsessed with the album “Every Bad” by Porridge Radio.

Favorite color?


Favorite TV shows or movies?

I’m a huge nerd, so I’m currently keeping up with all of the new Star Trek shows: Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks. My fiancé and I usually have a show we watch together on weeknights, and some of my recent favorites have been Fargo and Killing Eve.

Favorite local restaurants or other haunts?

Chou’s Kitchen is a favorite spot for soup dumplings in Chandler, and Curry & Scoop has amazing and unique ice cream flavors in Tempe. Arizona Wilderness Downtown PHX is my favorite bar - it has the best local beer and wine selection.

Least favorite food?

Coconut. Love the milk, hate the fruit and the flakes.

Three things readers would be surprised to know about you?

I’m an identical twin; I play Dungeons & Dragons; and I have a double major in philosophy and a minor in Arabic.

What is the lead time you need for content or pitches?

We need around a week’s notice for most stories. Our pitch meetings are Wednesdays, so get your pitch in on a Monday or Tuesday if possible.

What should (and shouldn’t) people be pitching to you?

Anything that has to do with the local Jewish community! We love to cover human interest stories as much as breaking news, and we’re always looking for stories in corners of the community we haven’t discovered yet.

What is the best way to reach you?

Feel free to email me at eobrien@jewishaz.com.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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