We made it to the week of the election. That’s right, Tuesday is Election Day — just two days from now. The campaign is in the final stretch, so there’s going to be quite a bit of election news today. If you’re stressed out waiting for Election Day to get here, you’re not alone. Many Philadelphians, regardless of party, are feeling it, too.
And while you were sleeping, daylight saving time ended. So if you’re feeling a little groggy this morning, it’s not just you. Medical experts say that the switch is not great for your body or your sleep patterns.
Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with reporter Cassie Owens, who covers cultural trends that are influencing Philadelphia.
What drew you to becoming a journalist and what do you love most about your job?
When I was a senior in college, I won an award that took me to Brazil to interview authors. There, I realized how much I loved interviewing people. I already loved writing, so by the time I got back to Philly, I knew I wanted to try journalism. The interviews are still probably my favorite part of the job.
You cover a wide range of things related to culture in Philadelphia. What do you like to focus on and what trends or themes are you keeping an eye on?
A friend told me that I often write about multi-marginalized Black people, or put another way, Black people who may experience discrimination for more than one identity, not simply their race. It’s not the only thing I cover, but a good chunk of my work falls under that, for sure. I didn’t set out to have that focus, I think I’m one of the people who just wants to see more of the journalism that I wished had been there when I was younger. That shapes my approach a lot.
How do you find the stories you cover? What’s your process for collecting ideas?
I always keep close watch of social media, and that’s been my bread and butter, especially because the pandemic has knocked out a lot of my typical processes. I miss being able to go to events to find inspiration for story ideas or meet potential sources. I am grateful for tips and for colleagues who’ve been around to share ideas and talk.
What’s a recent story you’ve worked on that you’re proud of?
There is a new free app, Trail Off, that offers GPS-activated audio stories for 10 regional trails. The authors behind the stories are Philly artists, including noted author Carmen Maria Machado. I requested to interview a poet who wrote about the Cooper River Trail, because my editor asked if the app had any trails in New Jersey. It turned out that this poet, afaq, had been living with chronic illness throughout the pandemic, but was planning to return to the trail for the first time in 2020. The story is about the app, but it’s also about what some of the artists experienced in the process, before the pandemic arrived and after.
What do you like to do outside of work? Got a fun hobby or are you more of a Netflix-binger?
I’m a plant mom and I love cooking. I probably waste the most of my free time on YouTube, though.
Thanks for sharing this gorgeous fall shot, @jordanparenti!
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With everything that’s happening right now, it might be hard to find your calm. But if your mind is racing and you feel annoyed, remember, that’s normal. Even under normal circumstances, you might need to take a minute to breathe. And in this era, anxiety and dread might be making you breathe faster. When we panic, our bodies crave more oxygen. That’s why, on a physiological level, deep breathing and meditation can make a difference. Breathing techniques don’t have to be complicated. We have a few simple ones you can use to hopefully relax a little.
“A story confirming how much good one individual can make in the world. Someone not on the big stage and not in the history books, but his act had a huge effect on the development of Europe after the war.” — clriley17, on World War II ‘Candy Bomber’ turns 100. Those who caught his candy — now in their 80s — say thanks.