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“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 SubscribeJunction.com or through any of our other 14 newspapers.
What do you do at 22nd Century Media?
As editor of The Tinley Junction, every week I'm searching for stories happening around town that I believe our readers deserve to know. My focus is on the News and Life & Arts sections of the paper. Along with writing stories of my own, I also assign stories to our freelancers. My favorite part of my job is getting to tell stories that people would not have heard otherwise. Everyone has a story to tell.
What does your job at 22nd Century Media mean to you?
I started writing chapter books and short stories by the time I was 7 years old. I'd gather my family together in the family room and read them the story out loud. Sometimes, I'd even have my grandmother read them over and give me a grade to tell me what I could improve upon. Looking back and seeing where I am now, it has come full circle. I am able to do what I love and hopefully make a difference in the stories I tell.
What is the most memorable story you've written during your time here?
While I have loved so many stories I have had the chance to write, one that sticks out the most to me is one I wrote when I was assistant editor of The Lockport Legend and The Homer Horizon. On the surface, it seemed to be about LTHS correcting a fallen Marine's last name on a remembrance plaque they had in the school. The story led me to find the family — which came from as far as Oregon and as near as Wisconsin — and tell them that this plaque exists, something they had no idea for the past nearly 50 years. It's stories like these that make me love what I do.
What have you learned about the community you cover that you otherwise might not have known?
While I did not grow up in Tinley Park, I always knew about it and had been there a handful of times. I think the great thing about every community is there is more to the surface. You might visit a restaurant in one town, but not even realize the great backstory of the owners or how the place came to be. As far as Tinley Park, I have learned that residents are very generous people. They are always looking to raise money for a charity or family, and they do it because they think of one another as more than just neighbors.
What do you like to do for fun when you're not working?
I love to run and workout. Staying active is very important to me. I also really enjoy going to concerts.
What's one thing even your co-workers probably don't know about you?
That's a great question. I always struggle to answer these. But I am a huge Notre Dame fan. My grandfather went to Notre Dame and met my grandmother at St. Mary's College, which is just across the street in South Bend, Indiana. I bleed blue and gold through and through.
What is your perfect work lunch situation?
I absolutely love EggCetera in Mokena. The food is fantastic, and the owner is so very nice.
How are you riding out this COVID-19 pandemic?
My boyfriend and I continue to work from home, so it's nice to have a replacement co-worker for the time being. My two cats have made great secretaries and are always keeping me entertained.
Anything else you want people to know?
I'm sure many people have read and heard us talk about the value of community journalism, but I feel like it's something worth repeating. There are so many stories from Tinley Park that you will never read elsewhere, and it's because of the hard work of 22nd Century Media editors that brings these stories to life.