Meet the Media: Justine Murphy, Senior Editor at Laser Focus World

I’m a senior editor and writer for Laser Focus World, which focuses on all-things photonics—my role allows me to learn about new and emerging technologies and their implications for the future for researchers, developers, and real-world applications. I’ve worked in this capacity within the photonics industry for about seven years, and the topics we cover never cease to amaze me.

Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?

I recently took over the biophotonics/biomedical beat, an ever-advancing realm that continues to enhance technology, research, and ultimately real-world applications. LiDAR is another focus area for me, specifically its current and potential use in autonomous vehicles. “Smart farming” is on my radar as well; it’s poised to change the future of farming and agriculture as a whole.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.

As special publications editor for The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire (the fifth oldest continuously published newspaper in the U.S.), I wrote a piece on my pursuit of my family’s ancestry. I discovered a lot of interesting things, including that I’m a descendant of Ulysses S. Grant.

What story or stories are you most proud of?

Back when I was a newspaper reporter, I wrote a series of articles about an embattled high school principal accused of misconduct, including secretly altering the grades of several students. Although there was very little evidence after a lackluster investigation by the school board, he ultimately lost his job. After some sleuthing, my editor-in-chief and I discovered the principal was innocent of the allegations. For this series of articles, I won a first-place writing/reporting award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

There’s another story I’m extremely proud of, but it did not appear in any publications. My grandfather has always told the best stories about things like his childhood, his family, and his time stationed in Korea during the war. Over the course of about four years, I spent Sunday afternoons with him, documenting his stories and anecdotes. From that, I wrote a book for him.

What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?

Compelling content and strong quotes to highlight the most important, interesting, and pertinent information. Compelling images to help illustrate content are also ideal.

How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?

I’ve been a journalist for 22 years. My road to this point began in high school during my junior year. I needed a few extra course credits for the year, so because I’ve always loved to write, I opted to join some friends taking journalism. The teacher was a former newspaper reporter who almost from the start, saw great potential in my writing talents. He’s been a mentor ever since.

Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …

…creating greeting cards and other scrapbooking projects; assisting with renovations at my house; or running.

What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?

Send as much content and details as possible so we can gauge its relevance to our audience; we don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

Any pet peeves with PR people?

Not doing any real (or enough) research of the people and publications that could best fit the information they are pitching. Beginning an email with, “To whom it concerns” or “Dear sir/madam” can be far too general to really catch a journalist’s attention.

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)

A native of western Massachusetts, I moved to Vermont about four years ago with my boyfriend and our two cats. I enjoy baking, particularly old family recipes, and traveling anywhere I can. Something people may not know is I’m an old soul who loves classic movies and music, and history.

You can follow Justine on Twitter at: @jmurphoton

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