People to Pitch: Lorraine Swanson of Lake Effect news

lorraineWho are the people in your neighborhood? Well, if you’re on the North side of Chicago chances are Lorraine Swanson knows the what, when, where, why and how about them.

Swanson is editor and publisher of the Lake Effect News, an online community news publication, which recently celebrated its first anniversary.  Swanson says the current media shifts are offering new opportunities for gaining new audiences.

For nonprofits looking to expand their audience, Swanson says community news always beneficial to an agency’s purpose.

“We’re the ones that are always going to be interested in what you’re doing and helping you with your mission,” says Swanson. “Nonprofits [and] politicians need to remember that community journalists have space and we have a captive local audience.”

Swanson looks to digital journalism as way to offer North side communities a broader view of the issues affecting their neighborhood.  Amid heavy blogging, she says, which can offer “rumor and conjecture” to readers.

And when it comes to highlighting issues, Swanson says pitching the basics, a well-written press release and having significant information on hand makes a difference.

“Just give me the basics,” she says. “The who, what, when, why and how. Don’t make me hunt for it. Make it easy for me to find the information. The why and what you’re doing.”

Swanson, who once did PR for several organizations, says crafting press releases like a wire story often helped get the word out. However, as a community reporter she says recognizes that stories come in “all shapes and sizes” therefore she’s more forgiving and doesn’t want neighborhood groups they have to go to such heights.  She also suggests maintaining a collection of their media coverage for future grant applications.

She welcomes emails as she typically puts in 12 to 14 hours a day creating content for her site. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook but she acknowledges she needs to increase the frequency of her posts and tweets.

Swanson says as the media shifts it’s good to have some sort of independent news sources, “an independent voice [who] acts as watchdog for neighborhoods” and community news will always have a purpose.

“I think the industry is in a state of transformation,” says Swanson. “Niche journalism is where things are heading and there has always been audience for neighborhood journalism.”

To find the Lake Effect News, check out these links:

Twitter: “” Lake Effect News
Website: “
Cell: 773-454-3172 (anytime, day or night)

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