This month, the communities of the Verde Valley will hear from a new voice with Larson Newspapers, publisher of the Cottonwood Journal Extra, Camp Verde Journal, Sedona Red Rock News and Village View.Kelcie Grega replaces reporter Zachary Jernigan as the primary reporter for the EXTRA and JOURNAL.
A Cincinnati-raised employee of Larson Newspapers since October, Grega graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“I love reporting and any avenue where I get to be creative and come up with ideas,” Grega said. “I care a lot about storytelling. One of the most human things we can do is tell stories …. I prefer to tell other people’s stories. I feel like I’m living through [their] experiences.”
Following graduation, Grega was hired on as an intern at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where she worked as a copy editor. She also developed her own feature stories.
Grega was initially a copy editor with Larson Newspapers in the Sedona newsroom, working on the production end of the newspapers but also contributing weekly reporting. Upon the announcement of Jernigan’s departure, Grega offered to take on the role of reporter, which she said suits her better than copy editing.
“My biggest problem is being in an office. I need to move around,” Grega said, adding that she looks forward to getting to know her own community better. Grega lives in Cottonwood.
“Especially in Cottonwood, there’s a lot of development going on. That’s exciting to me,” she said. “I like cities that want to be better …. There’s a certain level of optimism happening in the Verde Valley. They’re looking for creative solutions to keep people here.”
Though an occasional pang for family in Cincinnati hits her, living in Arizona is a net positive for Grega: It provides inspiration as well as the opportunity to work independently on her own career and personal life.
“I love Arizona, especially Northern Arizona,” Grega said. “It’s still just incredible to see. I love waking up and seeing the mountains. I’m very sentimentally attached to it.
“Honestly, the best thing I could’ve done for my family was move away. We all miss each other a lot, [but] I feel like I’m even closer now that I’m far away.”
Grega said she is invested in creative expression, though she talks of her own talents in a casual, self-deprecating tone
“I draw stupid little cartoons,” she said, laughing. “I don’t try to monetize them, though. I also make soap. In the past, I did some stand-up comedy. There’s a niche audience that finds me amusing — maybe five people, and that’s all I care about.”