President Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis rocked the 2020 election, but Republicans in Pennsylvania largely said it doesn’t change much for them. In a critical swing state, any movement — or lack thereof — matters.
And, this week, I chatted with business reporter Catherine Dunn about her recent work, what she’s looking out for in her coverage, and why she became a journalist.
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 business reporter Catherine Dunn about covering stories about policymaking and court cases that affect regular people.
Could you quickly explain what your coverage area is and what you prefer to focus on in your work?
My title is “business and power reporter," and a big part of my job is writing about corporate accountability — how companies treat consumers and workers, and how they use taxpayer money and influence the political process.
What is something you learned about your beat through your reporting?
I was new to Philly two years ago, so I’ve learned a ton about politics in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and about industries I hadn’t covered before, like pharma and airlines.
What trends or themes are you keeping an eye on going forward? Are there any questions related to your subject area that you still want to be answered?
The consequences of the pandemic alongside the movement for racial equality are all-encompassing right now. The ways in which both of those are playing out in the workplace is a crucial ongoing story. To that end, I’m also watching what younger employees and customers demand from brands and employers on these issues — namely meaningful action, not just statements — and how businesses respond.
What is a story you worked on recently that you’re particularly proud of?
I’ll pick two that are related to my answer above. I wrote a story in March about coronavirus safety concerns among employees at Urban Outfitters Inc., which is headquartered at the Navy Yard. A few months later, I wrote about employees' experiences with racism and discrimination claims at the same company. In both instances, people were speaking up because they wanted a healthy and just work environment. Even with so much anxiety about job security, many workers are profoundly willing to push for change in this moment.
Why did you become a journalist? What is one thing you wish more people understood about your job?
I started working on my high school newspaper because it was an outlet for writing. I’ve stayed in this profession because I love interviewing people, digging through documents, and being surrounded by the creative, curious, intrepid folks who comprise a newsroom and make me laugh. The one thing I could never emphasize enough about my job is: send tips! We’re accountable to our readers and our community. If you have a story idea or think there’s something I’m missing, please drop me a line.
I love when the leaves change in the fall, and this is some pretty foliage. Thanks for sharing, @stoneyandersen!
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A friend told you that they aren’t going to vote. What do you do? Voting is important to democracy even under the best of circumstances. But this year’s presidential election — regardless of our partisan leanings — is likely to be the most important in our lifetime. My colleague Elizabeth Wellington asked a few experts for advice on having this conversation, including asking why and really listening to their reasons.
“I remember the diner and it was called Lerners. Loved the owners and down home food.” — princess of the city, on The Continental in Old City is closing — at least for now.