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Lauren Finkler, Contributing Editor
3:21 pm CDT March 30, 2020

The People behind the Papers” is a Q&A series featuring the employees of 22nd Century Media who play an integral role in producing 15 community newspapers. The project is designed to give readers an inside look at the personalities that drive the journalism you have read weekly in print and daily on our websites. To support the work we do, please consider subscribing at SubscribePrairie.com or through any of our other 14 newspapers.

What do you do at 22nd Century Media?

I am the assistant managing editor of our southwest suburban branch, where a small but mighty group of talented journalists is based. In that role, I work to guide and oversee the editing and presentation of all editorial content for our south branch's seven publications. Further, I serve as the editor of our company's lone California publication, the Malibu Surfside News.

 

What does your job at 22nd Century Media mean to you?

It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to fulfill my love of writing and creativity, and to do it for a greater, altruistic purpose. While newspapers have been around for many years, the local newspaper is a gem that should not be underestimated. Prior to my current roles, I ran The Homer Horizon (2013-2015) and one of our northshore publications The Winnetka Current (2011-2013). In each community and each role, the importance of the respective publication has been validated by our readers, and it means everything to me to be able to inform residents in a way that otherwise would not exist. On another note, this job has really solidified my love of photography. It can be challenging and heavy at times, but it can also be an awful lot of fun.

 

What is the most memorable story you've written during your time here?

There are so very many. In Malibu, I've written about a young missing woman named Elaine Park a handful of times — one story even earned a feature story award from the National Newspaper Association — and each of those pieces have weighed heavily on me, as she still remains missing. I also covered the death of a local student in the Borderline mass shooting, several homicides and, recently, an astounding story of a Good Samaritan who saved a motorist who may never have been found if the man who came to their rescue didn't stop to clip a sprig of pine for a white elephant gift. But the most memorable would probably have to be that of the Malibu West fire brigade, a group of residents who defied evacuation orders during the 2018 Woolsey Fire to save their neighborhood's homes. It's stories like that one which prove that the good of humanity exists right in your very own neighborhood, even in the darkest hours.

 

What have you learned about the community you cover that you otherwise might not have known?

Where to begin? I've learned that the Malibu community is rich in creativity and philanthropy, and it is not afraid to stand up for what is right. From City Council and school board meetings to on-street protests, the residents of Malibu are vocal in the best of ways. As a lifelong animal lover (my first career choice growing up was a zookeeper), I've also learned a great deal about mountain lions, sharks, sea lions, etc. I'm constantly learning, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

 

What do you like to do for fun when you're not working?

When time is on my side, I like to read (either biographies or fictional murder mysteries tend to be my go-tos). I also like to go on leisurely walks with my son and/or two dogs, do yoga and run. When I'm feeling less energetic, Netflix certainly is a friend of mine. And ever since I became a mom, I have really enjoyed cooking up some gourmet baby purees, toddler muffins/nuggets/pancakes and the like; there is no better feeling than when one of those recipes gets a round of applause from my 1-year-old.

 

What's one thing even your co-workers probably don't know about you?

I was partially drawn to journalism because I was featured in a newspaper when I was in fourth grade. I was using a net to catch bugs at a local park, and a man approached my mom and I, asking what we were doing. I was collecting bugs for a 4-H entomology project. The journalist and his photographer ended up coming to our house a few days later, and I still have a copy of the paper to this day. I was in awe of his job, and the rest is history. So, I guess the news here is twofold: my name was in the newspapers far before most of my co-workers, and I also was once a huge nerd who played with bugs. 

 

What is your perfect work lunch situation?

I've been long-winded elsewhere, but this one is easy: brunch.

 

How are you riding out this COVID-19 pandemic?

A good amount of walks, Netflix and baking. Trying not to obsess over the amount of dishes my husband and I are creating while being home all day. Trying to keep up with my confidently walking toddler. Also trying to stay focused on the positive news while not ignoring the truth of the situation, and working to strike that balance in my own profession.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

Sure, how about a bonus thing you don't know? I cannot snap for the life of me.