I am a Metro Desk / Features reporter at the Columbus Dispatch and will be celebrating my 21st birthday in August.
Most of my career at The Dispatch, I have spent in the state office covering rural western and southern Ohio.
I also manage our internship program. Supervising young journalists, getting to know them and appreciating their talents brings me so much joy and hope for our future.
Why I became a journalist
I knew early on that I wanted to be a counselor in the prison system to try to understand what could have prevented good people from making bad choices. But then I took a journalism class in high school and ultimately I was a decent writer.
So I decided that maybe I could make an impact in a different way, by telling stories of people who otherwise wouldn’t be heard. And here I am again today.
What I like most about my job
Every day I meet someone who teaches me. Every day is an opportunity to take readers to a world they have never been, to introduce them to someone they have never met, to transport them to an event they did not have. could attend. To let them feel through words what a person looked like, what a county fair looked like, how a public meeting got out of hand and put them there as if they had experienced it themselves. To show them how beautiful, horrible or impactful something is and why it matters to all of us.
Every day is a chance to provide someone with context and hope, and that brings meaning and purpose to it.
And I like to balance my trauma reporting with good news. On Twitter, my first tweet every morning is “good news of the day” and my last tweet every evening is a “last positive thought of the night”. Hope they help you.
A story I worked on that had a lasting impact on me
The Rhoden family homicides in Pike County in April 2016.
Having covered southern Ohio for a long time, I was among the first reporters on the scene when eight people were found shot dead in four homes. I was the first to have an interview with the surviving Rhoden, and I never gave up on the case.
It changed me forever. And I hope this has changed our readers as well, helping you understand why we do what we do by showing you the toll of violence, telling you why you should care about others and showing that the story every person matters.
Learn more about Rhodes: “A man cannot stand it.”
Video: Finding Hope in Tragedy Matters for Journalist Holly Zachariah
During her successful career as a journalist, Holly Zachariah, a journalist at Columbus Dispatch, tries to find hope in tragic situations.
Doral Chenoweth, The Columbus Dispatch
What is the biggest challenge I face
The changing landscape of how the public perceives “media”. We are not your enemy. We are your neighbors, your friends, the members of your church. Our children have played together, we eat in the same restaurants and visit the same bars. I wish more people would understand this, understand that those who stay in this business will stick with the storytelling and the truth.
Meet more of our staff:
Mike Wagner: Expedition Project Reporter will go anywhere to do the work that matters
Céilí Doyle: Rural journalist values empathy as a fundamental tenet of journalism
Alissa Widman Neese: The pace of education enables Dispatch reporter to learn and teach
What I like to do when I’m not working
My backyard is my happy place. I love mowing my lawn, weeding my flower beds, pruning shrubs and looking for butterflies and baby rabbits. My (too) many bird feeders bring me a lot of joy. And because I’m an old lady in a middle aged body, I love watching Andy Griffith and Carol Burnett reruns and I read romance novels all the time. I don’t apologize for all of this.
And I’m a proud Blue Star mom, so I visit my US Navy sailor whenever I get the chance when he’s ashore and spend time supporting our troops.
Back to where I come from: Much more anger than a child should have had
A letter to my son: “When I look at you, however, I don’t see a man. I see a boy.”
Favorite Event or Central Ohio Tradition
Covering the Circleville Pumpkin Show is my favorite thing. I got to know and love so many people involved, and I fill my stomach with pumpkin fritters. Who wouldn’t like that?
The Circleville pumpkin show: They’re like humans, these giant pumpkins
My most influential mentor
The late and great Dispatch columnist Mike Harden took me under his wing from the start, and I will always be grateful to him. We would meet and share a bottle of Merlot or enjoy cups of hot coffee as he criticized my work to make me a better writer, yes but more importantly a better human. “Don’t write about the mayor, Holly,” he told me. “Write about the man who drives his car.” His advice still color my career.
Why journalism is important
Our press badge should not provide us with information that you cannot obtain. But the reality? It does. We ask questions. We’re listening. We look. We tell stories. So that you can find out more. And we appreciate you. Our readers, both in print and online, matter so much.
Video: Tough times for journalism, says Dispatch reporter Holly Zachariah
It’s a tough time for journalism, says Holly Zachariah, reporter at Columbus Dispatch.
Doral Chenoweth, The Columbus Dispatch