People of Sacramento commenting on the news: Lauren Machi

Lauren Machi, communications coordinator for the Midtown Business Association
Lauren Machi, communications coordinator for the Midtown Business Association. Photo: Kevin Fiscus.

(This is the second installment in a weekly series with people who don’t work in journalism commenting on the news. Photography by Kevin Fiscus. If you’d like to participate, message or tweet me.)

Meet Lauren Machi.

She’s 29, a San Francisco native, a San Francisco State graduate, a homeowner in North Oak Park and the communications coordinator for the Midtown Business Association.

Her Twitter account is a snapshot of her interests: cooking (Blue Apron), drinking craft beer, rooting for her favorite teams (the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants) and watching television (“Better Call Saul,” “Breaking Bad,” “Broadchurch,” “Sherlock” and “True Detective” to name a few).

As someone with a color-coded life, she appreciates being able to relax at home.

“I’m stuck in front of a computer so much that my brain needs to go somewhere else.”

We met for the first time last week at the Old Soul on Broadway to talk about media consumption, the city of Sacramento and her thoughts on the news.

She feels like Sacramento is in a period of transformation: the downtown will look different, buildings will be taller and the number of residential units will rise.

“I don’t think people are ready yet,” she says.

She has her concerns. There can sometimes be too many cheerleaders in the room, and there can be a lack of willingness to listen to constructive criticism.

While much of the change is organic, some is not. Some things can’t just be what they are. Something cool has to be something more, has to mean more.

Still, many things have her excited: new architecture, a midtown dog park, the ICE Blocks, the streetcar and TBD FEST.

“Something is happening here,” she says. “People want to stay here.”

Lauren answered the following questions by email about how she gets the news. Text submitted April 21.

How do you get your news?
I receive the New York Times Now (NYT Now) Morning Briefing newsletter Monday-Friday. I read it first thing in the morning. It’s a quick synopsis of the day’s news: international and national headlines, market-watch and noteworthy non-breaking news headlines from around the web. It’s a well-rounded snapshot of the day’s happenings.

I make a point of not checking my email until I get to work. When I do get to work, I have Google Alerts set for various work-related topics that we follow. Then I check local news-outlet websites to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

The rest of my day is made-up of following updates on Twitter. I follow many local, national and international journalists. Their personal tweets are more colorful then their reporting allows them to be.

I don’t really take lunch-breaks, but I do try to set a time in the day to read long-form articles from The New Yorker, etc.

Then when I get home, I put on Marketwatch and PBS’s NewsHour. That’s the extent of TV news I watch. Oh yeah, and 60 Minutes! My Sunday night revolves around 60 Mins and Mad Men now that it’s back on.

What’s the first news event you remember?
The 1989 earthquake. I’m from San Francisco originally and when I was 4, my mom and I were driving eastbound over the bridge when the earthquake hit. I remember all the cars stopping around us and and my mom getting out of the car to see what was going on. I remember very distinctly the guy from the car in front of us saying there was an earthquake.

SFPD started directing people to turn-around and head back to SF since the upper deck of the bridge collapsed. We went to my Grandparent’s house in North Beach. There was minimal damage to the house since North Beach is on bedrock.

All our friends that lived in the marina stayed the night. Their homes obviously weren’t so lucky. My uncle, who lived out of the state at the time still talks to this day about how terrifying it was that he couldn’t get a hold of us in days following. All the power and telephone lines were down and of course this is pre-cell phone and pre-Twitter, so no live-tweeting of the 1989 earthquake occurred.

What content do you pay for?
New York Times, The Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle digital subscriptions. I have a hard-copy subscription to the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times Sunday edition. I actually had a weekly hard-copy subscription to the NYT until very recently, but canceled it due to the stacks of newspapers that would pile up in my home office unread and un-removed from its blue plastic sleeve.

What’s the last great thing you ate?
Honestly, the Thai dish I made tonight was pretty darn good! Umm, the last great thing I ate? During Sacramento Beer Week, I went to Lowbrau‘s Allagash Brewing dinner pairing. Brock McDonald, Block Butcher Bar and Lowbrau’s charcutier, knows what he’s doing.

Who’s doing it right in news?
Well, the gold-standard is of course the New York Times. Both in terms of content and innovation. They really paved the way for digital news and the pay-to-play model. Beyond that I don’t know enough on the economies of scale for a news organization to comment on who’s doing it right or wrong. All I know is that the news business is a hurting business and the lack of revenue is hurting content.

Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento
(1) Downtown/Midtown density — In order for the commercial hub of Sacramento to be successful, an influx of infill housing units is needed. I’m talking about high-rises. Successful cities build up, not out!

(2) Transportation infrastructure — Lack of efficient public transportation is especially an issue for the young, old or economically challenged among us. I know people in my neighborhood of North Oak Park who don’t own a car and rarely leave my block because frankly, it’s too much of an inconvenience. That’s a problem.

(3) Sacramento having its identity co-opted — Sacramento has gone through so many ups and downs I’m not sure what Sacramento’s true identity is. Everyone knows its past as a gold-rush town, but after that? If you look at SF, it had it’s gold rush era, it’s Lawrence Ferlinghetti beat poet-era, it’s Hitchcock-noir-era, it’s hippy-era, it’s zodiac-era, it’s banker-era, it’s tech-era, etc. I honestly don’t know what events of significance happened post-1900s in Sacramento. Is that weird? All I know is that Sac’s identity is up for the taking right now and I hope it’s developed naturally and purely and that it can be sustained.

What do you absolutely hate about the news?
Click-bait headlines. Non-breaking news mobile notifications. TV news in general. The media’s fascination with itself. News-angles that feed into whatever narrative is playing-out in the public sphere. Non-balanced stories. Wolf Blitzer.

What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?This is a hard question to answer because I seek out and find news stories that appeal to me.

Let’s think. The drought is freaking me out right now. I’d like to see the LA Times, the SF Chronicle or the Sac Bee do a thoughtful series on state water issues.

If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
Wherever my dog is, I’m happy.


Follow Lauren (@lauren_machi) on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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