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Three Questions with Haya Panjwani

KUT News' Haya Panjwani tells a story at ATXplained
KUT News' Haya Panjwani tells a story at ATXplained

KUT News' Travis County reporter Haya Panjwani joined the station in August 2022.

Before joining the KUT newsroom, she served as a fellow for The Texas Newsroom and reported for Houston Public Media and KERA in Dallas. She graduated from the University of Houston in 2022 with degrees in political science and journalism.

In her free time, you can find her hanging out with her dog, Goofy, watching the “Great British Bake Off” or analyzing Marvel theories.

Early voting is underway now with Saturday being election day. Be sure to check out the Travis County Voter Guide she produced.

Connect with Haya on Twitter. @HayaPanjw

What are you listening to these days?
Sundays are my cleaning day, which works out perfectly with “This American Life’s” podcast release schedule. Sometimes, when you cover daily news, you often just work with the facts instead of people. This podcast is great for me to just stop and really listen to how the news impacts the American people.

I can’t listen to EVERY newscast we air on KUT, so our podcast “KUT News Now” helps me catch up with what my fellow reporters worked on that day in a quick, four-minute listen.

Yes, news is vital – but it can be overwhelming. “Normal Gossip” is my unwinding podcast. It’s about random people who also listen to the pod, sharing mundane gossip. Also often listened to while cleaning, it’s a great laugh and can really make your jaw drop at times.

I’ve been very into house music lately, and Kaytranada has been the best intro to the genre. I’ve listened to some of his music previously, but since he’s dropping an album with an artist I love – Aminé – on May 12, I’m listening to everything I haven’t listened to yet.

Speaking of Aminé, a day hasn’t gone by in the last year or two where I haven’t listened to this rapper and songwriter. I’m obsessed with his production style and playful lyrics.

I’ve been a (Taylor) Swiftie since I was 12, so going to her concert last month meant I memorized every song I didn’t already know (which is very few at this rate). She’s a fellow Sagittarius, which means she SPEAKS TO ME!

I’m always listening to Bollywood. I grew up dancing to it – both on stage and at home for my mom. Almost every Bollywood movie has a half a dozen songs. Watch one movie and you may get hooked! I recommend a classic, “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.”

Read anything interesting lately?
Texas’ foster care system is heavily reported about, but rarely is a face put to the news. Roxanna Asgarian’s book “We Were Once A Family” does an amazing job with this. It’s gut-wrenching, but extremely vital reporting.

Emily Henry is my favorite author of all time. She's released three books and I’ve cried over every single one. Her fourth release, “Happy Place,” comes out later this month, so I’m finishing up “Book Lovers” in anticipation.

Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott and Alex Mierjeski’s investigation into a U.S. Supreme Court Justice – “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire” – had me on the edge of my seat through the entire reading. The amount of work that it takes to pull off an investigation of this grandeur is commendable. It’s journalism like this that keeps young reporters like me hooked onto the industry. There’s already been a real-world impact, and I think that’s powerful.

Austin ISD’s special education system has long been flawed. KUT education reporter Becky Fogel’s report “There’s no easy fix to Austin ISD’s special education evaluation backlog. Students are left waiting,” does a remarkable job explaining the history behind that and making it digestible for folks who don’t know how the world of education works.

What are you loving about the ATX lately?
THE WEATHER: It has been so nice outside!!! I’ve been going on LONG walks, playing with my dog, laying in the grass and reading and just spending time with friends outdoors. The sun, a light breeze and some Flonase are the perfect spring concoction.

The People: I’ve met some of the kindest, most diverse people in this city – and that includes KUT listeners, who make this job so much more fun.

So Green!!! I come from the land of highways (Houston), so seeing this many trees and this much greenery has been so refreshing!