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News & Press: Industry News

IndyStar Amy Haneline's Beverage Beat

Wednesday, September 30, 2015  
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The Indianapolis Star’s Amy Haneline Tells Us All about the New Beverage Beat


So the, ahem, beverage beat. Tell us in your own words what it’s all about and how you hope to cover? We have a booming beverage scene in Central Indiana. Microbreweries are popping up everywhere. We have wine trails. More recently, I’ve seen a surge in craft distilleries and coffee roasters. Not to mention, all the award-winning mixologists behind the bars at our local restaurants and pubs. There is a lot to talk about! It seems that Hoosiers are starting to care more and more about what they are drinking, alcoholic or not. My job is to find and share this with the community.  


We know folks at the IndyStar had to apply for these new beats --- what skills set put you over the top to land it? (Co-workers must be just a little jealous!) I have a degree from Ball State University in graphic journalism. That’s all you need to know, right? Chirp! Chirp! Just kidding. However, my background in visual presentation is perfect for this gig. I think success in this job depends on strong visuals and an active social media presence – two of my strengths. I also enjoy beverages. I live in Greenwood, and work downtown. Call me crazy, but I think we live in one of the coolest cities in the country. These are my people, and I’m happy to be a part of the conversation.


How would you prefer to be pitched suggested stories and other newsy items? Social, email, call – hey let’s meetup? We know a reporter’s time is limited. Right now, I am open to all ideas! The Star has never had a beat solely dedicated to covering beverages, so we are all learning as we go. Email me at, call at 317-444-6281 or find me on social media: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


What kind of hours are you working on a beat like this one – coffee in the early AM and cocktails in the PM after work hours? Sheesh. Well, like any job, there is a balance. It’s funny because there is a lot of overlap with my every day life. Even if I’m not working, I’m working. I can’t go to a restaurant without checking out the drink menu: What local beer do they have? Any cool cocktails? I’m also lucky that have supportive friends and family, and no surprise here, they are happy to help with “research.”


We know most folks are wondering – do you get a lot of free stuff to keep, eat, or sample? How does that work? Ek! Come on, you know I can’t accept free stuff. Sometimes it is hard to convince businesses otherwise, but no amount of free stuff will get you more coverage. Journalism Ethics 101. However, it is important that I am familiar with local products. When I was touring 31 breweries in 31 days, many of the breweries offered free tastings –1 ounce samples of beer. Otherwise, I purchased items and expensed them. The beverage beat is new for everyone, but my editors are helping along the way.


Seems beverage beats that are focused on craft breweries in particular are popping up all over the country … how much of your beat will be donated to the craft industry alone? My goal is to give equal coverage across all beverage-related industries – beer, wine, coffee, tea, cocktails, spirits, distilleries, you name it! However, I can’t ignore the explosion of craft breweries in Indiana right now, which demands consistent coverage.


Are you doing only the fun stuff or will you be tackling policy issues as well – legal, legislative, ATC, etc.? The fun side of my job is great, but as I mentioned in my introduction article, it isn’t all hops and aromas either. The other side of alcohol consumption – policy issues, addiction, abuse, intoxicated driving, and underage drinking – are all issues I take very seriously. It would be impossible to cover the depth and breadth of the beverage scene, without considering these topics. With the help of the Star’s incredible investigation team and watchdog reporters, I hope to tackle the “not so fun” side as well.


What’s your personal philosophy in approaching this brand new beat? (We’re told the Indy Monthly is also hiring a Libations Editor.) I’m not a sommelier, a beer connoisseur, a coffee snob, or a master bourbon taster, and I’m not going to try to dictate what readers drink. I’m happy to say when I love something or hate it. I also know there will be beverages I detest, that some readers will think is the next best thing, or vice versa. That’s fine and I respect that. I appreciate the processes and artistry of creating craft products. This is a two-way street. I’m not going to hide behind my computer screen, but will be out in the community, learning, engaging, tasting, and enjoying alongside Hoosiers. Then, I’ll share what I find! It might come in a tweet, a list, a photo gallery, or an in-depth narrative. Whatever it is, I’ll find the best way to tell it and deliver it to your smartphones, social media accounts, and doorsteps. I’m here for you.


And if Hollywood made a movie about Amy Haneline, who would you pick to play your part? Sounds like a boring movie, but if I had to pick, I’d go with Emma Watson. Talk about a badass. She’s a great role model for girls, and is bold and strong in her beliefs. Plus I’ve always wanted a British accent.


Anything else we need to know about you – or you’d like to share? I’ll also note that I am a huge sports fan, so you’ll likely see me tweeting about our local sports teams. Find me on social media: Twitter: @amybhaneline Facebook: /amyhaneline Google Plus: +amyhaneline LinkedIn: /in/amyhaneline Pinterest: /amyhaneline Instagram: amybhaneline Contact me: Email: amy.haneline@indystar.comPhone: 317-444-6281 Cheers! I’ll see you around, Indy. I’m excited to talk beverages with you.

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