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Abhinanda Datta, Editor
11:38 am CDT March 30, 2020

“The People behind the Papers” is a Q&A series featuring the employees of 22nd Century Media who play an integral role in producing 15 community newspapers. The project is designed to give readers an inside look at the personalities that drive the journalism you have read weekly in print and daily on our websites. To support the work we do, please consider subscribing at or through any of our other 14 newspapers.


What do you do at 22nd Century Media?

I’m the editor of The Mokena Messenger, but I also do a lot of the reporting that goes into our paper/website. I edit stories from freelancers and submitted content from local organizations. I interview people. I take photos and I write — a lot. Basically, I’m a jack-of-all-trades for The Messenger.


What does your job at 22nd Century Media mean to you?

My job is an extension of who I am and my core beliefs. I have always been passionate about being a voice for the voiceless, standing up to power when those in power need to be checked and also shining a light on the good things that happen every day all around us. We all have stories to tell, and I am proud to be able to bring those stories to our readers.


What is the most memorable story you've written during your time here?

There is no way I could ever choose just one story that is the most memorable. It sounds cheesy, but everything I write has a special meaning to me. That being said, one of the most memorable events I’ve had the pleasure to witness was the 40th birthday party at Berkots for one Mr. Daniel Potter, a wonderful man whom I have the true honor to call a friend.


What have you learned about the community you cover that you otherwise might not have known?

I don’t just report on Mokena; I live here, too. As the editor of The Messenger, I have always felt it is important to be a part of the community that I cover. During my almost three years working and living here, I have had the pleasure to meet many people in our community. I have gotten to know many wonderful people who are doing extraordinary things.


What do you like to do for fun when you're not working?

I’m not sure that a journalist ever stops working. Even when I’m technically “off the clock,” I spend time talking with others to find out what stories they have to share, and what we can learn from those stories.


What's one thing even your co-workers probably don't know about you?

I think I’ll invoke my Fifth Amendment right on this one. ;)


What is your perfect work lunch situation?

Steak and potatoes. Always steak and potatoes.


How are you riding out this COVID-19 pandemic?

Work, solitaire and video games.