Erie Times-News writer Valerie Myers never expected that one day she would become a professional journalist. Her vocation as a journalist was one that she wouldn’t discover until her college years studying engineering at Penn State University. “I was an engineering major. Then they started paying me to write in the paper,” Myers stated. She never looked back.
Myers then transferred from State College to the University of Pittsburgh where she majored in journalism. During this time, Myers learned the necessary skills and formal training required of any professional journalist, such as how to maintain objectivity in writing and how to cater to the multiple viewpoints that are present in any news event.
While studying at Pitt, she maintained a job at the now defunct Pittsburgh Press. Upon graduation, she went on to become a publicity writer for the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York before she eventually got a job at Girard’s weekly newspaper, the Cosmopolite Herald. Following buyouts and consolidations in the newspaper industry, Myers began working for the Erie Times-News where she has worked as a reporter for the past fifteen years.
Myers greatly enjoys her occupation as a journalist and expressed her love of interacting with the diverse group of people she gets to meet in her line of work. “It is different. You meet different people every day, and you get to leave the desk and mingle,” she explained.
However, interacting with people regularly can also present some challenges during interviews. Often, those who wish to hide something from the press tend to be hard for reporters to work with. Myers explained that in cases of misappropriated funds by local officials, they will attempt to hide their involvement despite it being relevant public information.
In her experienced time spent in the field, Myers has covered a very wide range of news pieces. Recalling the 1985 Albion tornado, she explained the one year anniversary feature she helped cover, telling the stories of those who died in the disaster and the rebuilding of the community, as well as the subsequent quest by local officials to acquire federal money to overhaul Erie County’s emergency response system.
Myers also enjoyed writing a recent profile on an amateur wildlife photographer from Titusville who worked with his son who had autism, “It was a feelgood piece, but it was a good story.” She explained that in any good journalism piece, a reporter will write the story through the eyes of those they talk to. In the case of the photographer, Myers explained how through his very well-spoken interactions with her, he essentially wrote the story based on what he had to say. “Get to know the person and get them to come out of their shell. Then they can tell the story and you often take a back seat.”