Case study

Journalist — Lauren Katzenburg

Lauren worked for an Afghan media company based in Kabul, before taking a postgraduate media qualification at SOAS University of London. She now works at The New York Times

What first got you interested in journalism?

I did my undergraduate degree in journalism at Boston University. I was drawn to the idea of telling other people's stories, particularly those who are disenfranchised.

What brought you to The New York Times, and the At War section in particular?

In 2014, I co-founded a publication called Task & Purpose, which became a nationally recognised outlet on military and veterans' issues. When The New York Times decided to relaunch At War (it was previously a Times blog from 2008-2016), they reached out to me to apply for the role as editor. It was a natural fit given my time in Afghanistan and role as editor at T&P.

What does a typical working day look like?

I start my day around 6:30am with a strong cup of coffee and the news. I work from my bed for about 90 minutes, reading through morning newsletters and important emails and try to make a plan for the day. Then I head into the office (I live in New York City and work in the main office). On any given day, I am working 10-12 hours, commissioning and editing stories; coordinating support to other desks with my team on big stories. I spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen. I try to meet with writers and aspiring journalists and interact with people in the military and veterans' space as much as possible to stay engaged in issues that At War should be covering, so during the summer, I split my week between NYC and Washington, DC.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

Getting feedback from readers. At War exists for a very specific community; if they aren't happy then I am not doing my job right.

What aspect do you find the most challenging?

Finding new ways to report on stories that everyone else is covering.

How is the role of the journalist changing in society?

Journalists are expected to do more with less. The media industry is incredibly volatile and journalists are constantly under threat of layoffs. Freelancers might spend months on a story and even put themselves at risk in reporting it, only to receive a few hundred pounds in compensation. That, on top of accusations of fake news, leave little room for error. It also means that efforts to bring diversity to newsrooms suffer. It's a very demanding and sometimes thankless job.

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