Chernéy Amhara is a Jamaican-American journalist working for FOX5 Las Vegas. Cherney joined the FOX5 reporting team in January 2017. Prior to working in Las Vegas, she was a reporter at CBS19 News in Charlottesville, Virginia. Amhara is no stranger to the western part of the United States, she lived in Sacramento, Ca through high school and later earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Before moving to the United States, Amhara spent her youngest years living in Kingston, Jamaica.
Amhara was named the 2016 Michelle Clark Fellow Award recipient by the Radio Television Digital News Association. She is also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Here is our conversation with Chernéy Amhara.
Q: What is your connection to Jamaica?
Both of my parents were born and raised in Jamaica. I lived in Jamaica until I was about 6, I went to Ardenne Prep School in Kingston before moving to the United States. Most of my family lives in Jamaica and I visit often to see them.
Q: When did you both realize that you wanted to be a journalist?
I began to pursue journalism half-way through college. I actually started off Pre-dental, but I had a change of heart after taking an elective class in radio. I wanted to get a better understanding of TV and Radio so I began interning with CBS Radio in Sacramento, California. After that, I fell in love with journalism. I ended up changing majors, even schools and headed to Los Angeles to have an opportunity to intern in a bigger news market while in school. I later realized I spent my life preparing for a career in journalism, when my family first moved to the United States, my mom watched the news to help learn about the new environment and even find out about local events to participate in. Growing up that way gave me a deep respect and admiration for reporters and anchors and I’m happy to be able to live this dream today!
Q: What are your thoughts on social media and journalism? With so much daily fake news and hoaxes on social media how do you see the 2 co-existing?
Social media is a double edge sword. On the one hand it’s a great way to get the news you need at your fingertips immediately, on the other hand it’s a fast way to spread a falsehood. Fake news happens when people don’t vet the stories they’re reading or don’t use trusted news outlets. I often see people sharing memes as news, but anyone could make a meme! If you see a story that is hard to believe double check that other news outlets have the same story. Fake news should not exist, but there is no stopping it.
Q: What has been your favorite assignment so far?
In Las Vegas, one of my favorite stories was a happy one, the birth of a newborn baby girl. Her mom went into labor, but she lived in a town called Pahrump, which is about an hour away from the closest delivery wing in Las Vegas. Normally babies don’t come that fast, but this little girl was determined to come, her mom ended up delivering a baby on the side of the road with a trooper.
Q: Tell us about one of the stories you has had a major impact on your life? There are a lot of stories I loved, but my most memorable stories have all been related to the mass shooting tragedy in October. It was a horrific night to say the least. I was at home and I heard reports of an active shooter, I texted my Executive Producer and headed into the station. We got to the scene immediately and we were very close to the Mandalay Bay. I remember an officer running up to my coworker and I as we were live on air saying we have to move back further. I remember grabbing my gear and running down the island near the Las Vegas sign. That night I spoke to people who were bruised and bloodied, because they were running for their lives, I listened to their stories, wiped tears and gave out so many hugs, but in the time since the shooting the world has seen Las Vegas’ resiliency and I have been very proud to cover that.
Q: Is there a great story that you really want to tell but waiting on the right platform to tell it?
To me, every story is a great story, because it’s not my story, it’s someone else’s. In this business you’re dealing with other peoples lives and what is important to them. I work in local news, so as long as it is related to our local community, I have the right platform to share the story.
Q: Tell us about an assignment that was a disaster?
Sometimes I work by myself, I write, shoot and report as a solo multi-media journalist. It’s tuff, but you learn a lot working alone. Sometimes there can be a disconnect between a grandiose idea that producers want and what is actually possible. I can’t recall any specific assignments that have been disasters, but I know stories often change from what a press release may say on paper.
Q: Who is your hero?
My grandmother. She passed away in January 2017, and was laid to rest at Dovecot Memorial Park in Spanish Town. My grandmother was my biggest supporter and I know I work hard because of her. After my grandpa passed away, she moved from Jamaica to the United States to help my parents out with my brother and myself. I always believed she didn’t really want to come to the United States because she left everything and everyone she knew. She always made sure we knew where we came from and were proud Jamaicans, no matter where life took us. She sacrificed a lot to help my brother and I succeed, and I will always be grateful. Everything I do is in her honor.
Q: Do you have any new projects in the works?
I have to keep special projects under wraps because journalism is a competitive business, but I recently finished a special story about ganglife in Las Vegas and shadowed active and former gang members to learn about why its growing.
Q: What is the motto you live by?
Wi likkle, but wi tallawah! I know it’s directly about Jamaica, but it reminds me that there is no problem too big for me to overcome.
Q: What is your favorite Jamaican dish?
That’s hard to narrow down, but maybe fish and festival, I also love ackee, and bun and cheese!
Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
My favorite songs change often, but I can tell you artists I like Jhene Aiko, Drake, Romeo Santos, Mali Music
Q: A movie you never get tired of watching
500 Days of Summer
Thank you for your time and all the best in the future.
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