(This is the ninth 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 Leidhra Johnson.
She’s 26, a Sacramento State graduate, grew up in Folsom, lives in Southside Park and works as the marketing director at Uptown Studios.
Her job involves helping clients see “the big picture” by connecting, brainstorming, strategizing and then communicating a consistent message on a variety of platforms.
You may have seen her leading panel discussions on social media throughout the region or in this Comstock’s magazine cover story on tattooed professionals.
I met Leidhra when she was on her way on to being named editor in chief of The State Hornet and have seen her develop into a local leader through her work with Metro EDGE and Leadership Sacramento’s Class of 2014.
We caught up in June at the Old Soul at The Weatherstone to talk about media consumption, the city of Sacramento and her thoughts on the news.
Like many of her friends growing up, she “couldn’t wait to leave” and seized on a scholarship to attend Mills College in Oakland. It didn’t take her long to feel pull of home and she returned to pursue a degree in journalism at Sac State.
“I fell in love coming back,” she says. “It’s the perfect mixture of city and town.”
She values the Sacramento’s affordability, the pace, the sense of home and how each neighborhood has its own feel. Most of all, she appreciate the live/work/play balance.
“It doesn’t have quite the chaos of other cities,” she says.
She’s excited by the “awesome things going on in our region” and the “great people doing great things.” Ask her what she likes most about Sacramento and she’s quick to mention the food, the farm-to-fork movement and the abundance of good coffee and beer.
And she’s working to address one of her concerns: finding ways to attract and retain smart young talent. In her role as the Metro EDGE professional development committee co-chair, she collaborates with young professional throughout the region and helps plan the annual Emerge Summit. The goal is “making sure people come and want to stay here.”
“I like that we’re working together to build this sense of Sacramento identity,” she says. “I hope the momentum keeps going.”
Leidhra answered the following questions by email about how she gets the news. Text submitted May 4
How do you get your news?
I often get my news through social media. I am on social media daily for work, so I constantly get tidbits of news throughout the day.
What’s the first news event you remember?
The first major news events that stick out in my memory would have to be the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa. I remember seeing how sad my parents were by this news and how the news had such a large impact on so many people.
What content do you pay for?
At this point, I am not paying for any news content.
What’s the last great thing you ate?
The last great meal I enjoyed out of the house would have to be Blackbird‘s cioppino. I am a sucker for cioppino and while I will always be a daddy’s girl and believe his is the best ever, theirs was pretty on point.
Who’s doing it right in news?
This is a surprisingly challenging question. I thought I would have a strong opinion about this after studying journalism in college, but getting most of my news in small chunks throughout the day on social media, I don’t necessarily have one particular person or channel I rely on for one topic. There are some channels I look to for more breaking news, such as News 10, Fox 40, KCRA 3 and The Sacramento Bee. Then there are some that I look to for more community and business focused stories, such as Capital Public Radio, Sacramento Business Journal, Comstock’s, and again, the Sacramento Bee.
Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
(1) Civic amenities — I feel like I am kind of cheating by using this answer, because when I say civic amenities I am really referring to several important things – arts, music, entertainment, cultural attractions, sports, parks, outdoor attractions, shops and restaurants, and transportation. Civic amenities are essential for building our identity as a thriving community, improving quality of life for residents, and attracting new residents and visitors. It is easy to think of amenities as bonuses, but really, I see them as essential components of a successful city that can help solve other keep issues.
(2) Safety/crime — Living in Midtown for the past eight years, I have often laughed at friends who think this city is dangerous. Unfortunately, as I grow up and continue to live here, I realize there is a lot of work that could be done to improve the safety of Sacramento. In the past few years, there seems to be an increase in crime in Midtown, including people being harmed walking home at night. Unfortunately, this is the type of thing that keeps people from wanting to live in a city. Also, with growth, we have to be aware of a potential increase in crime. Our city seems to be in a state of growth, so addressing this issue early and developing a plan could benefit our city as we continue to grow. By working together as a community to develop safer neighborhoods, I believe our overall city will benefit, again, helping to improve other key issues.
(3) Work development/YP retention — Yes, this is another multiple part answer. I think developing more jobs and focusing on keeping our young professionals in Sacramento is huge. I am one of those many people that could not wait to get out of this city – fortunately I came back and now love it. I often hear of talented people leaving for more exciting cities, or even cities they don’t necessarily want to move to, but that have jobs waiting for them. I would like to see more work be done between educational institutes and local business to create onboarding and transitional programs for students so that we can do our best to keep our talent here.
I also think there is a great deal of overlap in these issues, and fixing one will help the others. If we make our city an attractive place, where people want to come enjoy our music, arts, parks and more, we will likely retain our young professionals and build a thriving economy with compassionate people who will band together to solve address key issues such as safety. I know, it’s not that easy, but a girl can dream.
What do you absolutely hate about the news?
Like so many other people, I do feel weighed down at times by the amount of bad news, but I also understand that much of it needs to be reported on. I dislike when articles one-sided, sensationalized, or have a misleading headline. Honest, balanced reporting should be part of every news story in my opinion.
What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
I would like to see more coverage of opportunities to get involved and to help solve some of our city’s key issues. Crime in particular comes to my mind. As mentioned above, safety is a key issue in our City. While I see crime being reported on, I feel like it is often a quick story that feels raced to by media outlets simply trying to get the news out there, but I don’t see much follow-up or information on what people are doing or can be doing to help change this.
If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
A beach house in Bodega Bay with my partner and my pup!
Follow Leidhra (@UptownLeidhra) on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.