MercerMe welcomes Ambreen Ali, freelance reporter, who has started covering Hopewell Valley Regional School Board meetings, and more, as of this month.
Ambreen lives in Hopewell Township with her husband and their three children. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Fortune Magazine, Agence France Presse, Edible Jersey and The Counter. Before moving to New Jersey she was a Congressional reporter for CQ Roll Call in Washington, DC, where her beats included tech policy and grassroots lobbying.
She shared: “I grew up in the Bay Area and reading the San Jose Mercury News was a part of my daily ritual. At first it was just the comics, but over time I began reading the headlines too. They connected me to far-off places and helped me feel connected to my city. I would look at the bylines with wonder, asking myself who got to do this very lucky job. By the time I graduated from journalism school, however, local news outlets were flailing. I interned at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer a few months before it folded, and being in that newsroom around all these committed individuals who worked hard day in, day out to uncover truths and hold officials accountable on behalf of residents really inspired me.
“I ended up working in national news instead, and for years I felt that I couldn’t be a local reporter because the economics wouldn’t allow it. Fast forward to my move to New Jersey four years ago, children in tow, and I began freelancing full-time. Choosing my work on a project basis allowed me to make time for passion projects, and I began reflecting deeply on the kind of work that I find meaningful. I realized that I wanted to contribute to my local community and using my journalism background was a way to do that.
“I lived in South Orange at the time and began writing for The Village Green, which is a website like MercerMe for that area. I also began writing for other New Jersey outlets, including CivicStory, the Center for Cooperative Media and NJ Spotlight News. They are all doing the essential work of reporting on our communities and keeping citizens engaged so that they can make informed decisions at the ballot box and in general.
“As local newspapers have dwindled, news sites like MercerMe have emerged to fill a critical role in being the eyes and ears of residents at committee and school board meetings. They provide an independent view of what’s happening around us, and we can lean on them to highlight concerns and keep us updated and engaged.
“I moved to Hopewell last summer, and I am excited to be working with MercerMe to learn about and report on our community. I hope that in doing so I am able to strengthen our connections to one another and make this a richer place for us all.”