Dan Petty during the 2008 Spider Alumni XC Open
I can attest to his relentlessness as a reporter…A few weeks ago when Matt Llano competed in the Stanford Cardinal Invitational in CA, Dan flew in to support his former teammate and roommate. While Llano was on his warm-up we were standing at the track with his high school coach…as the Women’s 10K started. Dan, with his press pass, said he was going over to the finish line for the 10K races (women and men).
As the women’s 10K advanced there was a bit of excitement building as Lisa Koll of Iowa State set a pace to better the NCAA Record for the event. Dan was there taking photos and captured her celebration as she crossed the finish line. He quickly transitioned from photographer to reporter and arranged an interview with Lisa Koll and later that evening the Associated Press (AP) picked up two of his photos and a short story on Koll’s accomplishment. It took him the better part of the night to get the right person on the phone within the AP Office in NYC, but he got the story…and it went out on the AP Wire.
He takes pride in his work...and has taken the work ethic he perfected in athletics to his occupation. It was fun and impressive to watch him perform as a reporter...Something I had never witnessed as his coach.
April 6, 2010
Ask Dan Petty, ’09, what his favorite thing to cover is and it doesn’t take him long to answer.
“Breaking news. There is nothing more thrilling than a story that involves fast-moving sources and information,” is his quick response.
After a quick review of his time at Richmond—a biology and journalism double major, varsity track and cross-country athlete, Collegian online editor and reporter, amateur photographer and University Jazz and Wind Ensemble trumpet player—it’s suddenly clear why he loves covering life at high speeds.
Less than a year after graduating from Richmond, Petty now works for the Denver Post in Denver as Multimedia and Online Producer. He cites one of his biggest achievements so far as revamping the newspaper’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. He also writes freelance for Running Times Magazine, and is still an avid runner in his spare time.
While at Richmond, Petty also served as an intern at the Pennington Post, Stateline.org and the Associated Press, wrote for the Capitol News Service and blogged for The New York Times.
While he arrived at Richmond undecided, looking forward to a liberal arts education that covered all the bases, he says he’s always had an interest in the media.
“After I chose Richmond, I took News, Media and Society with Professor Tom Mullen,” Petty said. “Halfway through I realized that the homework and reading didn’t really feel like work. I was truly interested in everything, so I just kept taking more and more courses.”
Petty applied for a position at The Collegian after his high school track coach told him it was the best thing he had done in college, and that it created a unique connection to the community that was hard to duplicate. Petty quickly established himself as a topnotch writer and reporter, taking any assignment he could get.
After he didn’t get the job of editor-in-chief his senior year, Petty decided that rather than settling for something less, he’d take a new route entirely—modernizing the online version of The Collegian. In 2009, The Collegian won “Best Overall College Newspaper Web Site” at the Student Society for News design contest.
“I was just off an internship with the Associated Press of Richmond and after four months of covering national and international breaking news, I saw the incredible value of online reporting,” Petty said. “There was a need in our community to deliver stories minutes after they happened, even if it meant working in a tight-deadline type of environment.”
Creating the Web site wasn’t easy, and Petty refuses to take full credit, citing help from many other students along the way. He says upgrading the site was a necessary step in the paper’s evolution.
“News conversation is no longer one way, it’s two way,” Petty said. “There is real-time interaction, people are commenting, they are eager to participate in our reporting and the process of news reporting, and it’s never been easier to do that. I strongly believe if journalists are not on and using the Internet, especially Facebook and Twitter, then they are not doing their jobs.”
Petty says that using Facebook and Twitter is kind of a no-brainer when it comes to journalism—they are where most people convene in times of crisis and excitement. During Petty’s time at Richmond, one of the biggest news stories was the football team making it to the national championship, and its coverage was crucial.
“I’ll never forget the 2008 Football Subdivision National Championship,” Barrett Neale, current Editor-In-Chief of the Collegian, said. “I can’t remember ever seeing Petty more excited about an assignment. He got there before I did to shoot footage for a video, and he was up until 4 a.m. working on it and posting it on our Web site.
“When he was finally finished, he went to bed – with his shoes still on. When I saw footage of the game on ESPN, it was easy to spot him in the middle of the action, documenting the game for our readers who couldn’t make the trip to Tennessee. That game is one of my fondest memories of college, and it was helpful to have someone so dedicated to the coverage there with me.”
Ask any of his former Collegian comrades to describe Petty in one word and they all use the same one: relentless.
“There was no assignment he would turn down,” Neale said. “I’m not sure when, if at all, he had time to sleep. I remember him calling me about breaking news on weekends, in the middle of the night and even on Christmas Eve.”
“I don’t think I ever spoke with Dan at a normal time,” said Nick Mider, current Collegian online editor. “And there was no digressing with Dan Petty—well, except for with news.”
“If there were a crisis on campus, we would be hiding in the air vents and Dan would be that guy sprinting toward the action,” said Jimmy Young, current Collegian online managing editor. “He had so much self-determination, and honestly, he’s kind of our own personal UR news legacy.”
When asked about his favorite memory at Richmond, the basis of it is still in journalism. Petty doesn’t deny the “relentless” comment, and said that this determination helped him land one of his biggest stories at Richmond.
“It was a story about a lacrosse coach that resigned, and although articles had been written, they were all missing the key voice: the coach’s,” Petty said. “I tried everything—e-mail, phone calls, and finally, I got tired of it. I staked out in front of her house until I got the interview, and it made the story. Some might call me insane––I consider it a deep passion, and I think passion is what you need in this industry right now.”