Another in a series of interviews with reporters who bring you the news
By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer
elissa Fitro is an award-winning news reporter for Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA, covering Scottsdale and the Town of Paradise Valley. Independent Newsmedia has newspapers in four states, including a daily print product and several weeklies in the Phoenix area.)
She graduated from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2013. She enjoys skiing, yoga, baking and cooking, and is looking forward “to another successful season of fantasy football.”
How did you come to decide to be a journalist?
I had a really, really amazing journalism teacher (Shout-out to Mrs. Kristy Roschke!) in high school who was not only inspiring but incredibly supportive and motivational to all of her students. Many of us still keep in touch and have jobs in the journalism and arts fields here in the Valley and across the U.S. Beyond that, I liked that this [job] allows me to constantly be doing something different, doing something creative, and talking and getting to know people and their stories, which I think is my favorite part of the job.
What’s the hardest part of the job?
I would have to say it’s learning to let go of stories after they’re finished. When people say, “You never really feel like it’s finished,” — it’s true. I also check how the story is doing online and check the comments, and with big stories comes a lot of pressure and angst — at least for myself.
Learning to let go is a big part of journalism that most people probably don’t see.
Scottsdale is unique in several ways, so what topics are on your priority list?
For me, it’s the Scottsdale Unified School District and enterprise stories. I regularly do stories on city council and city issues as well.
How important is social media to your work?
In my opinion, it’s pretty important because you can reach readers instantly, but it isn’t our only way of reaching readers because our print newspaper is pretty beloved within our communities. In Scottsdale, you have people who only want to receive their news through their social media or their email accounts, and you have some people who don’t use the Internet. So I would say it’s equally important to everything else we do.
Any experiences with people who were obviously anti-media?
No not really. Your success is found within your approach.
What’s the most memorable story you’ve covered.
There are a few, mostly they are ones that touched me emotionally somehow. I’ve covered two Holocaust survivor stories; the first was in high school when I was interning for the Independent. The second was this past February. I covered an intimate event in Paradise Valley with Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s step-sister. She shared her story of surviving the Holocaust to a room of about 300 people. I immediately wrote my story about her the next day; it was really special.
Whom would you most like to interview?
That’s a good question, and one I haven’t really thought about too much. Locally, the first people who come to my mind are two women from the Scottsdale area who are publicly known as Brie and Nikki Bella, or the Bella Twins. They are professional wrestlers from the WWE, but more importantly, they are professional role models for young women to look up to. They have pivoted their success as entertainers into brands that empower young women. We need more stories on people like that.