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5 Questions for Lori Lizarraga

You left your job as a reporter for 9News over a year ago. What have you learned since then?

It’s such a good question! Because I’ve learned so much. For example, I’ve learned just how much work there is still to do in our country and in our industry surrounding representation. I’ve learned that diverse stories told by diverse people are essential for everyone. I’ve learned how courageous and effective an empowered community can be. I’ve seen firsthand the power of the written word when there is intentionality and honesty and when it allows people to feel both seen and heard. I’ve also learned how much I love my job as a reporter and a journalist, which is even more than I already knew. My 2021 reporting of “ LatinXed asked our industry to look inward at the ways it could improve. Since then, I have also asked myself to do the same in many ways. The time and energy to be self-reflective has been a luxury and a privilege that I’m really, really grateful for. And as a result I’ve learned how to be more patient and reflective, how to invest time in teaching others as I learn, and how to bring the value of myself and my lived experiences to my work passionately as well as productively. I have learned the importance of being slow to react and quick to listen. While I’ve never been one to avoid confrontation, I approach it today with different goals and a different confidence. I’m constantly learning how to better realize the most effective work for the most affected people. And I’m also learning how to slow down and trust myself and the process. No matter how unpredictable the journey may be, I’ve learned time and time again that it’s all on the way to something. 

What were the ups and downs of being outspoken?

When people ask me for advice about being outspoken in their workplace, university, or newsroom, my answer is think. Reflection and reaction are very different things and so each will produce a very different outcome. Reward won’t always follow risk. So it’s my experience that what you stand for you should be prepared to stand for alone, against advice, and at your own expense solely because it is right. Many will not join you and your risk does not obligate others to do the same. That’s why it’s so crucial to reflect before you react.

Who does speaking out serve? What will speaking out change? How can speaking out be most impactful? Is this something you are willing to risk your career, your livelihood, your reputation, or your future opportunities for? Because unfortunately, that may very well be what speaking out costs you. It shouldn’t, but it can. Can you effect more change in the room? Can you afford the toll of staying? Will you resent the cost of speaking up? Will you regret it if you don’t? If those are hard questions to answer or the cost outweighs the cause, that’s crucial to know. 

That’s what makes the courageous agents of change who have come before us so incredible and so profound. I stand on a lot of their shoulders and I know that. For me, standing up for coverage and for community in this powerful but disproportionate industry was always the hill I was willing to die on — full stop. Mine is a success story for being outspoken but there were many, many days before any exciting announcements or big job opportunities that were a reminder of the consequences of that decision, too. Even on those really hard days, mine was always a success story because I did what I believed was right. The change it created, the impact it had, the people it reached, and the pathway it carved out for my success today are all beautiful, humbling, and completely unexpected results that I could never have imagined. I’m so incredibly grateful for every single up and down that has led me where I am today.

Are communities starting to hear the message about representation and the different knowledge that comes with it? 

We’re seeing our society and our industry being challenged in so many important, sometimes difficult but also overdue ways. For a long time, the accountability work from journalists and from within newsrooms on which our systems have for so long relied wasn’t being used by our industry on our industry. That’s changing all the time for the better of the work and the communities our work is supposed to represent and serve. I think that’s a testament to the reporting, but it’s also a sign of the times. The industry is changing because society is changing because the energy of marginalized communities in newsrooms and across this country are finding their voice and defending their place now more than ever. Like I said, diverse stories are essential for everyone.

What’s next for you? 

I just started my second week at NPR as the newest host of NPR’s national show Code Switch! I’m so proud! It’s been such an exciting, beautiful, hard-earned, whirlwind of a season to get here and it truly is the perfect fit. A marriage of the reporting and storytelling I love so much and the fearless conversations about race that need and deserve more oxygen in our news landscape. I am so ready to get my feet under me in this new role and get started doing really great and important work with a really great team. Please join me for the ride by listening to Code Switch wherever you stream your podcasts! 

You are moving out of state.  What will you miss about Denver?

I will most likely be moving to DC in the new year to be nearer to NPR’s DC headquarters! But I actually moved out of Denver last spring and have been based in Philly ever since. My partner is a reporter in Philadelphia so it was the natural next stop for me to lay some roots after the whirlwind of 2021. But I can still answer that question! Because what I miss about Denver is the same thing I miss about anywhere I have ever gone to live and report — the people. Luckily, those relationships and connections that I’ve built over the years all over the country have very much stood the test of time and distance. I’m proud and grateful that so many of the most important, supportive relationships I made in Denver are no exception.

Written by

Vicky Collins is a freelance television producer and journalist based in Denver, Colorado with a diverse portfolio of projects that include network news, cable programming, Olympic sports, corporate and non-profit videos. Some of her most satisfying assignments have been covering disasters, working in the slums of developing countries and telling stories of people who show great courage in the face of adversity. She has been in all 50 states and on six continents and many of her television stories and photos are posted on her website at www.teletrendstv.com. To contact Vicky Collins directly email vicky@teletrendstv.com or tweet @vickycollins.

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