Lauren Linder doesn’t like being interviewed. How do we know this?
“I don’t like being interviewed,” she recently told the Union Progress. “I like interviewing other people. I want to share their stories.”
Linder began her new job as a KDKA-TV reporter on Dec. 12 and has been getting to know Pittsburgh as a city and news market ever since. She has already been sent out to cover everything from the Immaculate Reception’s 50th anniversary to the death of Brackenridge police Chief Justin McIntire.
That’s one heck of an introduction to a region that the Stamford, Conn., native had no prior familiarity with. It’s all in a day’s work, though, for a reporter like Linder who already has almost a decade of professional experience under her belt.
“I care about [Pittsburghers’] stories,” she said. “I want to tell their stories. I want to hold people accountable. I want people to know what’s going on, even if it’s hard to share.”
Journalism was always Linder’s endgame. She has always been an “inquisitive, curious person” and got started working toward her career goals early by volunteering in her high school’s marketing and communication department. Linder went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.
One of her first internships during college was with WCBS-TV in New York. That’s where she first became acquainted with her mentor, longtime WCBS anchor Dana Tyler. Tyler told the Union Progress by email that it “didn’t take long for me to see her potential” as a budding television news reporter.
“From working with her on her reporting assignments at Indiana University, to critiquing her work at her first news stations leading to this fantastic opportunity at the prestigious KDKA, we’ve kept in touch,” said Tyler, a Columbus, Ohio, native who has “always been in awe” of KDKA. “I’ve admired her commitment to broadcast journalism, and she’s determined to be part of a great news team doing solid reporting for Pittsburgh communities.”
After graduation, Linder spent 2½ years reporting for two stations in Wausau, Wis., and another two-plus years working at WTEN-TV in Albany, N.Y., before landing at Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV in February 2019. She accomplished quite a bit in her two years there, including her discovery of a loophole in Wisconsin’s driver’s license system that state lawmakers are currently trying to address.
“Our reporting can help get answers or bring attention to spark change and make a difference in the community,” Linder said. “That’s exactly what that did.”
Besides working on investigations, Linder also enjoys “being on the streets” as a general assignment reporter. She was sent to Kenosha, Wis., in 2020 on the night that a police officer shot Jacob Blake. Linder recalled thinking that “it looks like Kenosha is on fire” as she found herself in the middle of the mayhem. She ended up getting tear-gassed, and a few personal items were stolen from her vehicle.
It was “the most intense reporting experience of my life,” Linder said.
Following her time in Milwaukee, Linder moved back to her home state and spent about a year freelancing for WTNH-TV in New Haven, Conn. Though she enjoyed living closer to her mother, she eventually began yearning to once again be reporting in a bigger city with a more prominent sports scene.
Enter KDKA, a station that was in the same time zone as her family, boasted “a manager who cares about his staff” in news director Shawn Hoder and was also the hometown of famed pop artist Andy Warhol. Linder’s apartment is covered in Warhol-related decorations.
“I patiently waited for the right opportunity,” she said. “I looked at specific markets where I could make a life for myself. … There’s so much life and culture around here.”
It’s been a whirlwind getting used to this place, but Linder said it’s “a great honor” to be working at a station owned and operated by CBS. She has already learned the most important lesson of working in Pittsburgh broadcast news — Yinzers care, a lot.
“I love it,” she said. “I’ve never been in a market where people care about the news so much. … I got into this industry because I wanted to tell people’s stories. To me, it doesn’t make sense not to care about the news.”
Sarafina James exits WPXI-TV
Though she politely turned down a request for a full interview, WPXI-TV reporter Sarafina James confirmed to the Union Progress that she has left Channel 11.
The Pittsburgh native and Point Park University graduate began freelancing for WPXI in August 2020 before becoming a full-time reporter in March 2021, according to her bio on WPXI’s website. Before moving back home, she had worked at stations in Tampa, Fla.; Little Rock, Ark.; Steubenville, Ohio; and Clarksburg, W.Va.
She’s now the fourth WPXI on-air talent to exit the station since November. The rest include former Westmoreland County bureau chief Melanie Gillespie, reporter and weekend anchor Ryan Houston, and investigative reporter Angie Moreschi.