Carey Peña: On Our Side in Many Ways

By Cassaundra Brooks

News isn’t always glamorous, but delivering it certainly can be! Just look to 3TV’s Carey Peña, the hardworking Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist and weekend anchor. She has helped to crack some big cases and uncover shocking truths, and has faithfully reported during some of the most momentous local and national events in recent history. And she always manages to look good doing it all.

After putting herself through ASU’s renowned Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, where she also worked as a news and sports reporter for ASU’s magazine show, Newswatch, during her senior year, she began her post-graduate career as an intern for Channel 3. Now, in 2011, she has become a more integral part of the 3TV family than ever, as an anchor for Sunday night’s Good Evening Arizona and 3TV News at 9 and as a member of the news channel’s popular “3 on Your Side” unit, ferreting out scams and other misdeeds and, where possible, rendering justice to the victims.

Perhaps most impressive is Peña’s ability to balance everything so well. Her work, both on camera and off, is taxing, but she manages to squeeze in a number of speaking engagements, charity work, and a constant stream of social networking. At home, she has a husband and two young twins born this past May—London Victoria and Julian Davis. Life certainly is never dull, but Peña wouldn’t enjoy it so much if it were.

North Valley Magazine took a few minutes out of Peña’s schedule to get to know one of our state’s most recognizable news personalities.

North Valley Magazine: What news story that you have covered (or uncovered!) has shocked you the most?

Carey Peña: The case of the serial shooters was very shocking. I covered that story extensively for many months. What would possess these guys to drive around the Valley randomly shooting at people and animals? It is impossible to understand.

NVM: What news story have you found to be the most uplifting?

CP: Soldiers and marines coming home from war is, in my opinion, one of the most uplifting stories to cover. The moment they are reunited with family is emotional and beautiful.

NVM: You’ve covered a variety of stories, unearthing information that has helped officials solve high-profile criminal cases and political scandals. You daily face stories that, potentially, are emotionally draining. How do you personally confront the challenges of the job?

CP: So much good can come out of telling stories. When you expose a wrongdoing and force accountability where there otherwise would be none or give a victim a platform that empowers them and hopefully helps them heal, it makes it all worthwhile.

NVM: And what inspires you to keep digging and taking on these tough investigations?

CP: I work in a newsroom full of really great reporters. I think it’s in our nature to want to dig and find out the truth. Good journalism is all about getting to the heart of the matter—no matter how simple or complex a story might be. I’ve been blessed to work with a very talented team in our “3 On Your Side” unit. Whether we are working an investigation or getting someone’s money back after they’ve been scammed, it is inspiring to me because we are able to make a difference. That’s a good day’s work.

NVM: You’ve moved from feature/fashion reporter and news writer to general-assignment news reporter, and now to news anchor and investigative reporter. What’s next for you?

CP: As long as I continue to move forward—to learn, get better, and grow—I will be happy. For me, the key is always having forward momentum.

NVM: What is your favorite part of working with the 3TV family?

CP: I can’t say enough about working at 3TV. Obviously, I love it. I started here as an intern from ASU and worked my way up in this newsroom. I appreciate working in such a spirited, supportive environment.

NVM: You somehow manage to maintain active online social networking accounts and take on a number of speaking engagements in addition to all your work at the station. And, you have lovely young twins at home. How do you balance your career with your family life?

CP: I just try to live in the moment. When I’m at work, I focus on work. When I’m with my kids, I focus all of my love and attention on them.

NVM: You are widely acknowledged as one of the most fashionable personalities on local television. Where does your fashion sense come from, and what do you like best about the concept of fashion?

CP: Fashion is a fantastic way to express yourself: how you are feeling, and what you want to portray to the world. I like to have some fun with my style, try new looks, and keep things interesting. For me right now, it’s all about the cool young designers like Rachel Roy, Phillip Lim, and Yigal Azrouel.

NVM: What is your favorite part of communicating with the public through various social-networking media?

CP: There is so much to love about social media! To narrow it down, I guess I’d say instant feedback and honesty. Sometimes brutal honesty, but I love that, too. You can’t live in a bubble and not care about what viewers have to say. Also, there’s such a broad of exchange of ideas through social media. I soak it all up.

NVM: What are your favorite nonwork activities? What do you like to do for fun in your alone time? What are your favorite family activities?

CP: Well, I love to read, so I was excited to find a Kindle under the Christmas tree. And I’m a magazine addict; I subscribe to everything from Elle Décor to Vogue to National Geographic. That’s about the extent of my sitting around, however. For the most part, I am on the go; doing Pilates or working out, spending quality time with friends, going to the movies, or making meals with my family. I’m part Greek, so Greek food is a favorite in my house. Whatever I’m doing, I try to enjoy it. Life is just too short not to make it matter.

NVM: How do you relax after a long day at work?

CP: The most relaxing time of the day is when we put the twins to bed. We have the most beautiful classical music CD we play every night.

NVM: What is the best method by which people can contact you or “3 on Your Side” with potential stories?

CP: E-mail us at 3OYS@azfamily.com, or you can always get me on Twitter. I like it when people pitch stories to me there because it’s short and sweet—you have to get to the point in 140 characters or less! If you are part of the Twitter movement, connect with me @careypena3tv.

We leave you with a final thought from Peña’s Facebook page: “I’m interested in what you believe—not what you are told to believe. Have your own views, believe in yourself, speak your mind, be kind and respectful.”

You can also network with Peña on Facebook at facebook.com/careypena.

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