Shout out to the teacher of Australian-Spanish heritage who found herself running a journalism class in a Maryland high school a decade ago. It was thanks to her brainstorm — “Let’s create a school newspaper!” — that Billy Penn’s newest full-time reporter became enamored with the trade.
Layla Jones joins the Billy Penn newsroom at WHYY on Aug. 26 with a background on both sides of the pen.
After graduating from Temple’s Klein School of Communications in 2014, Jones worked as a web producer at Philly.com and launched an Inquirer/Daily News series on local artists called “Philly on the Rise.” Embracing Philadelphia as her home, the Severn, Md., native next lent her internet savvy to the Philadelphia Tribune, where she covered the high-profile corruption trials of former Congressman Chaka Fattah and former DA Seth Williams.
That taste of politics proved enticing, and in 2017 Jones left the news industry to become director of communications for Councilmember Cindy Bass. “I wanted to try something new,” Jones said about the switch, which let her flex muscles in public policy, social media management and graphic design.
After two successful years in PR, she was itching to return to reporting. “I love telling the full story,” Jones explained.
At Billy Penn, Layla will be a general assignment reporter, so expect her byline to show up on profiles of local entrepreneurs, dives into city agency hiring practices, recommendations on where to dine and plenty of other topics.
Want to know more? Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out her smart responses in the short Q&A below.
If you could have a Philly neighborhood named after you, which would it be?’
Philadelphia has shown that you can’t change a neighborhood’s name no matter how hard you may try.
Best thing about working for someone on City Council?
City Hall is an absolutely gorgeous building.
Your favorite block in Philly?
This is a tough one! I can’t say I have a favorite block. I have favorite things on blocks.
I’m obsessed with the Vanna Venturi House and those other mid-century moderns in Chestnut Hill. Parts of the Germantown Avenue corridor throughout Northwest Philly are truly gems. I love 52nd Street because it’s real and you can always get some good food. And I would be remiss if I left out Kelly Drive and the Wissahickon — it’s amazing how far away from the city those outdoor places can make you feel.
A cousin from abroad comes to visit you in Philadelphia. The three places you take them first are:
- Either Max’s or Ishkabibble’s for a steak
- The Rodin, because if they’re coming from abroad they’re obviously into the arts
- The Colored Girls Museum, my most favorite place in the city
Your hope for the future of journalism in Philadelphia?
My hope for the future of Philadelphia journalism is that it finds a way to be financially sustainable and to genuinely incorporate diverse communities at all levels of the industry.