Valerie Denney

Valerie Denney, President, Valerie Denney Communications

As a public relations strategist for nonprofit organizations and issues, Valerie seeks news to understand the conversations taking place at the local, state and national level in order to position her clients in the context of those conversations. “I generally want to understand what people are talking about and the language they use to talk about it,” Valerie said.

She begins her day with coffee, breakfast and her iPad, occasionally listening to WBEZ as well. She reads three newspapers via their iPad apps: Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Wall Street Journal. At the Tribune, she focuses on national, politics, business and opinion, especially seeking out particular columnists, including Steve Chapman, John Kass, Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn. With the Sun-Times, she looks at all headlines, and with the Wall Street Journal, she focuses on the front page and Personal Journal.

Valerie notes that the design of news apps seems unorganized, almost an afterthought. “It’s the huge downside to reading online,” she said. “I’m dedicated to ferreting the information I want. If you’re not, you can miss so much.”

Valerie relies upon e-mail news alerts from CNN, the Wall Street Journal and Crain’s Chicago Business, and glances at email from local nonprofit organizations. She also frequently gets e-mail from colleagues sharing stories.

During the day, she makes sure to check on The Daily Beast, especially Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, which curates news from different political perspectives. “You can hear how people on all sides are talking,” Valerie said. She also reads Greg Hinz’s politics blog at Crain’s and Rich Miller at Capitol Fax. As time permits, she’ll check in on Politico and Reddit’s politics channel, and occasionally she’ll read the Huffington Post or watch PBS Newshour segments on her iPad.

She finds value in bloggers who bring together different voices and content. “I’m finding that’s a much more satisfying way to understand things than following one big media outlet,” she said. “I look for good reporting, wherever it happens to be.”

Valerie often listens to WBEZ in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening after dinner. She is experimenting with stitcher.com, an app that allows people to listen to public radio shows and podcasts on-demand. She does not watch local television news.

Valerie reads her print subscription to Crain’s and glances at e-mail promoting the latest news from Catalyst and Chicago Reporter. She subscribes to The New Yorker but reads it on her iPad.

Valerie estimates she gets 95% of her local news online.

While she feels she is well informed about Chicago, she knows from her work with nonprofit organizations that huge areas of news, such as poverty and housing, are uncovered or covered poorly in the media. She also notes that the media does a poor job of helping people understand how political relationships affect policy outcomes.

Valerie’s guilty pleasures include video game news sites, Huffington Post’s entertainment section, LOLcats and TED videos.

By Emily Culbertson

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