Emily Manley’s path to covering Missouri politics

ST. LOUIS – You’ve seen her cover some of the biggest stories in Missouri. Emily Manley is the Missouri Chief Capital Bureau reporter for Nexstar Media, and her job is to cover state politics. She works for eight stations in different parts of the state, and has been in this role for more than three years.

Why did you want to become a journalist?

Manly became interested in journalism after first developing an interest in meteorology in the fourth grade. Her fascination with weather led her to watch Dave Murray on FOX 2 in St. Louis and create forecasts using markers on her bedroom mirror.

“I would pretend that I was pointing to the weather and talking to myself,” said Manley. “This continued in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. I was the weird middle schooler who would make sure I was home in time, so I could watch the CBS Evening News. I loved that people got to tell other people’s stories. So then, when I got to high school, it switched a little bit more into sports.”

She developed a passion for news and focused on sports coverage. She aspired to be like Erin Andrews. She wanted to work at ESPN.

At Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois, she pursued meteorology while anchoring and reporting for the student-run newscast. However, her interest shifted towards news reporting after volunteering to cover city council meetings, which led to a politics.

“City council meetings were every Monday night, and I ended up covering them for four years straight, and it led me to my political career,” she said. “I still did meteorology in college. I was working for our local student-run newscast as a meteorologist and also as an anchor reporter. I did five shows a week.”

While in college, Manley met her husband, and both pursued journalism at Western. They both worked in journalism, and while their schedules are busy, they prioritized communication and utilized FaceTime to stay connected.

She then attended the University of Illinois, Springfield, for a one-year master’s program, where she was paired with a local media outlet as a capital bureau reporter, covering politics.

“In the Master’s program, you’re stationed at the Springfield, Illinois, capitol. They pair you up with a local media outlet, depending on what your medium is. I got paired up with a station in Springfield, and I was a capital bureau reporter for about nine months while going to graduate school,” Manley said. “And you did both at the same time. That’s when I found that I enjoyed covering politics and graduated with my master’s.”

What motivates you?

While people may hear about the headlines, they may not grasp their implications. Her job is in the capital, where she provides daily updates to Missourians on various matters, such as budget funding, school programs, and potential bans like texting while driving.

“I am telling Missourians, ‘This is what’s going on, and this is how your life is going to be impacted,’” she said. “I like using my two minutes on air to make sure that you are informed.”

How do you deal with work stress?

Manley said that walking her dog is one of her favorite activities. Marley is a terrier mix that Manley adopted from a rescue in Wisconsin.

“I walk her almost every morning and then read a book, and my last thing is heading to the gym,” she said.

Manley and her husband have taken up hiking as a new hobby since moving to mid-Missouri, providing an opportunity to enjoy nature and put away their phones.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?

On her days off, she and her husband enjoy exploring different breweries and towns in mid-Missouri. They also work as a team outdoors on their lawn.

Golfing is another activity they both enjoy, and they make it a point to try out various golf courses in the area. Their passion for travel also contributes to their busy off-days, making them big travelers.

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