Reporter Danae King strives to give a ‘voice to the voiceless,’ help people

Columbus Dispatch [Columbus OH]

January 16, 2022

By Danae King

[Includes video interview with King about her immigration stories.]

Danae King serves as the faith and values and immigration reporter at The Dispatch.

Why I became a journalist

From a young age, I’ve loved a good story. I read everything I could get my hands on. Eventually my love of reading turned into a love of writing and, coupled with my natural curiosity, a desire to be the person telling the stories, not just reading them.

As I started to find every opportunity to write, I began to realize my love for journalism went beyond telling stories and became more about making sure the truth is told. For me, journalism is about ensuring that someone is watching those in power, raising consciousness about injustices against those without power and getting the chance to educate people about things they may never otherwise hear or know about. 

Danae’s work: ‘There’s no escape’: Memories of being raped by Catholic priest haunt Columbus man

I started in high school, like many journalists I know, at my student paper. But, when that didn’t satisfy my desire to tell stories, I began freelancing for two small papers in my hometown.

I never stopped writing and reporting through college, where I was heavily involved in the student newspaper. The more stories I got to tell, the more people I learned about and interviewed, the more I wanted to continue to be a journalist. 

What I like best about my job

I love so many aspects of my job: constantly getting to meet new people, telling stories people may not otherwise hear and giving a voice to the voiceless. But, what I like best about being a journalist is the public service aspect. When journalists look into a topic, they are able to hold people accountable, uncover injustice and cause change.

The best part of being a journalist is the ability to help people. 

Columbus Dispatch reporter Danae King on January 5, 2022. Barbara J. Perenic, Barbara J. Perenic / Columbus Dispatch
Columbus Dispatch reporter Danae King on January 5, 2022. Barbara J. Perenic, Barbara J. Perenic / Columbus Dispatch

A story I have worked on that has had a lasting impact on me

So many stories I have written have impacted me and my views on certain topics. However, the one that makes me most thankful to be a journalist and that illustrates what I love most about it — it’s impact and the change it can cause — is the coverage I have done on priest sexual abuse of minors in Columbus. 

In March 2019, when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus released a list of the priests who had been accused of abuse of a minor and had served in the diocese, I dug in.

Danae’s work: Why aren’t Ohio officials investigating Catholic sex abuse cases?

Throughout the spring and into the summer, I reported on the diocese’s handling of priest sexual abuse and built a database to show people information the diocese wasn’t sharing: where accused priests had worked in the area.

The stories culminated in a project titled “Catholic Secrecy.”

But, more than that, the stories caused change. 

Before I started reporting on how the diocese works with abuse survivors and those accused of abuse, survivors had to report their abuse to a priest — something survivors’ groups and experts said would deter people reporting at all, and could be re-traumatizing. 

Danae’s work: Database of priests accused of sexual abuse of a minor in the Columbus diocese

After my reporting, the diocese hired a counselor and lay person, not in the uniform of many survivors’ abusers, and she is now the one who takes abuse reports.

Though it was a difficult topic to report on, what kept me going is the fact that I knew it must be even more difficult for the victims of abuse to tell their stories so others may be spared what they went through.

In May 2021, a survivor of priest sexual abuse contacted me to tell his story. He’s working hard to change the laws in Ohio that make it so he, and others, can’t seek justice against their abusers and the church. 

What is the biggest challenge I face?

The biggest challenge I face is that there are so many great stories to tell in central Ohio, sometimes it can be hard to find the time to tell them all. I’ll never stop trying, though!

What I like to do when I’m not working

I love to read, hang out with my Goldendoodle puppy Ace and, COVID-permitting, spend time with my friends and attend the many fun events central Ohio has to offer in non-pandemic times.

Favorite event or central Ohio tradition:

The longer I live in Columbus, the more I love it. So, this is a hard one to pinpoint, but I think my favorite part about living here is getting to go see the Blue Jackets and the Clippers play. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not super interested in sports, but I love the atmosphere and the fun that is going to Columbus games. I also always have a hankering for cotton candy. The hot dogs don’t hurt, either. 

Why journalism matters

There are so many reasons. Chief among them, though, is it’s unique ability to bring light to important topics people may not otherwise know about. For instance, I wrote recently about refugees who are being forced to leave their homes during the pandemic and winter. Once readers found out, many offered their help and support. I think that illustrates the incredible power of journalism to bring people together.

I also believe journalism, and storytelling specifically, can bring people together, create compassion and connect people to those they may think they have too many differences with to relate to.

Share your story: The Storytellers Project is coming to Columbus

That’s why I recently joined the Storytellers Project and I am part of a team of reporters and editors organizing four annual live storytelling shows in Columbus this year. The themed shows each feature five storytellers from the community telling a personal story intended to inspire community connection.