As a journalist, it is evident that Joe Dennis uses empathy and kindness when writing any story he finds.
“I’m always thinking about how decisions impact people, not so much about the politics of issues.”
Joe Dennis is a journalist and teacher. Although his career is very important to him, he puts his family above all. This prioritization began during his childhood. He grew up in Chicago with his family close by. His mother immigrated from the Philippines and his Filipino heritage dominated most of his childhood. Additionally, catholicism played a huge role in the way he was raised. Saying grace before every meal, going to church every Sunday, and celebrating Easter was a regular in the Dennis household. Even though he does not practice this religion anymore, his core values lead his journalistic career a well as his family.
“As I got older I really started to embrace it more” he said. “Family is everything.”
This mindset stayed with Dennis into his adult life. As a dad of three kids, Dennis is constantly trying to help his children embrace their heritage as well. Cooking traditional Filipino dishes like Pancit, Adobo and Lumpia allows his children to stay close to their Filipino culture. While he does not reside in Chicago anymore, his family still visits his hometown to see their relatives. Dennis’ love for his family turned into love for his community through his journalistic career.
“I’ve always had a heart to look out for people that may have been forgotten,” he said.
During his time of being a community journalist, Dennis attended a city council meeting. At the open comments section portion of the meeting, an African American man voiced his complaints concerning his landlord. His house had mice and rats everywhere, but his landlord did nothing to settle the situation. Dennis reached out to the man after the meeting and scheduled a time to see his home in person. Dennis investigated this issue called slumlording. He created a series that took about three months and was nominated for several awards. While winning awards was a huge accomplishment, the main purpose of his journalistic writing was to write for those who were unable to speak for themselves, a principle that has been enlisted in him since his childhood.
“My religion has always taught me to look out for the people that are less than.”