Sunrise Mountain High School graduate Jamie Warren dreamt of working as a TV news reporter in her hometown market.
She did it in less than five years after graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. In June 2018, she joined ABC15.
“It is a dream of mine, actually,” Warren said with a smile. “My family watches me every day. I love being able to tell stories and have them be able to see me reporting in the community that I grew up in. They’re dedicated viewers.”
Born in Chicago, Warren and her family moved to Peoria when she was an infant. Still residing in her hometown, Warren considered a variety of careers, including a profession in the medical field, while at Sunrise Mountain.
“Nothing was really sticking with me,” she said. “When I was growing up, I would watch the local news every morning before school, while I was eating breakfast and getting ready. I felt so connected to the reporters. I felt like they were my friends telling me what was happening during the day.
“I loved how they were always somewhere new every single day. They weren’t in a cubicle or anything. They were just out somewhere different in their community telling stories.”
Warren wished she could do that, but she wasn’t sure how to navigate it. She did not exactly know what “journalism” was.
“I took a journalism class in high school, and that’s how I started this journey,” she said.
After graduating high school in 2011, she headed to the Cronkite school, which aptly prepared her for work in the “real world.” She reported for and anchored Cronkite News.
“I built a reel with different stories and things that I had covered while in college,” she said. “I honestly feel like going to that school prepared me so much for my first job out of college. I could see the difference between me coming out of college and other new reporters who had, maybe, gone somewhere else.”
Warren started her television career reporting, anchoring and producing at KVIA-TV, where she won a Texas AP Award covering the border cities of El Paso, Las Cruces and Juarez.
“It was definitely really challenging,” said Warren, a former dancer. “I was fresh out of college. This was my first time being in a real TV market, reporting on issues that they were doing within the community.
“I’m not going to lie, there were many stressful days. I have to say that that market truly prepared me for a bigger market like Phoenix. To this day, I’m still friends with a lot of people who I met and became friends with there.”
After three years there, she returned to Phoenix, where she routinely highlights the underserved in the Valley. The problem came to a head during the COVID-19 pandemic when shoppers were met with empty shelves at grocery stores.
“I’ve spoken a lot with members of the homeless community, and I’ve recently done a lot of work on food insecurity and childhood hunger,” she said.
“I was finding myself reporting live from food banks almost weekly during the time (during the pandemic) when the National Guard was assisting. There were thousands of families who never once before had to use this resource. Now, we were in desperate need because grocery store shelves were empty.”
She does, however, enjoy uplifting stories that highlight “great people in our community.”
“I remember I did this story — probably at least a few years ago — about a house fire,” she recalled. “There was this man inside of the house who used a wheelchair. His sister came outside and said he was in his bed, and she couldn’t lift him.
“This young kid, who happened to live across the street, went inside of their house, lifted him out of bed and helped carry him outside. So many people look at him as a hero, and he was. When I interview someone like that, I feel honored just to be in their presence, because what he did was so honorable. I think when viewers see something like that, they are touched by it.”
Recently, Warren returned to Cronkite to teach a videography class. She shows them the proper techniques of using a camera and editing. “It’s a challenging course,” she said. “Some people may not realize that we do sometimes shoot and edit our own video. I tell the students, ‘Sometimes I do this for my job, and you’re going to have to, too.’”
Mentoring young journalists is Warren’s passion.
“That was a really amazing experience for me, because that’s where I graduated from,” she said. “I was teaching journalists who were in my same shoes at the time.
“I love being able to share all my successes and my mistakes with them, because that’s what helps them learn. I can relate to what a student is going through and my experiences in the industry can help another student.”
Warren is just excited to share stories and her experiences with students and family at home.
“Everyone has this vision of their career, where they want to end up,” she said. “And, for me, this is where I wanted to end up. I was wanting to be living and reporting in my hometown. I’m so lucky to be able to do that.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I am happy where I’m at right now.”