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  • Sincerely, Southern

From Columbus to Kentucky: Lauren Gorla

By Natasha Young, Managing Editor

Lauren Gorla started her journalism journey in Statesboro, Georgia with the George-Anne, and now she’s working at the top newspaper in the state of Kentucky.


Gorla, 28, graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2016 and began working at the Ledger-Enquirer. She had planned to eventually work her way into an editor position, but it came much sooner than she expected.


“It was on my life plan, not in Kentucky, but being a managing editor in a larger city was one of my eventual career hopes,” said Gorla. “I didn’t think I would be doing it this soon in my career but when the opportunity came up last year it definitely sparked my interest.”


In 2022, Gorla was offered a job as the managing editor with the Lexington Herald-Leader, or Kentucky.com. She previously was a senior editor in Columbus and said it did help prepare her for part of her new job, but not at the level that she’s doing now. Her prior work was mainly focused on working with reporters and was mainly content based.


As a managing editor, Gorla said she now works in two different spheres. Gorla manages Kentucky.com’s editorial team and a group of reporters while also helping out other editors when they need it.


She helps reporters by assigning stories, finding angles and assisting in ethical dilemmas they might face. On the other hand, Gorla has the added layer where she steps back and overlooks the newsroom with a bird’s eye view to ensure everything is operating how it should be.


While she was originally worried about moving to Lexington, like most people are before big moves, she said it was easy to get acquainted with the city. She mentioned how most people who work in news will tell you that the best way to learn about a new city is by reading the newspaper, which she has to do daily.


Along with adjusting to a new city, Gorla had to adjust to a wider range of coverage. In Columbus, they mainly focused on local news, whereas at Kentucky.com, they cover a much larger area.


“Having to broaden my mindset in terms of what a local newspaper can cover, was not necessarily difficult, it was just like I said, a new challenge I had to think through,” said Gorla. “I talked a lot with the people here on staff about what we’ve historically covered and why we cover it and the importance of continuing some of that coverage.”


Gorla explained that throughout her time at Kentucky.com, she has relied on her colleagues and executive editor to help her grow into her new position. Throughout her first year, she said her favorite thing about her job has been being able to see reporters grow from start-to-finish on their stories and being innovative in trying new things for the newsroom.


One of the highlights of her career with Kentucky.com so far has been working with two reporters on a story about teachers in Kentucky losing their licenses due to sexual misconduct. Their series resulted in Kentucky lawmakers directly referencing it in a bill to create more accountability and training. Though the bill wasn’t passed, lawmakers have said they still plan to pursue it. Whenever that happens it will be very fulfilling to see, said Gorla.


“I loved working in very local news in Columbus, but it was in my plan that I wanted to be somewhere a bit bigger that had more influence for that reason,” Gorla said. “I just want to make an impact in the work I’m doing and in the role that I have.”


Gorla reflected on her time at Georgia Southern, where she had originally started as an English major. She had always been interested in news, but never thought about it as a career until she heard about the Georgia-Anne. In her sophomore year, she changed her major to multimedia journalism and didn’t look back.

“Probably my two most influential professors were Dr. K. and Dr. Broadway, who left a couple years ago, but definitely having professors who had worked professionally in the field and could give us insight into doing the jobs we wanted to do someday was eye opening, very helpful and made the lessons feel a lot more realistic, a lot more tangible,” Gorla said. “So, taking those classes and my experience that I was having at the George-Anne, actually getting to put that into practice was very influential. I think if I had not had the two together I probably wouldn’t have been as successful as I am now.”



Gorla’s best friend, Sarah Smallwood said that Gorla was all business when it came to the George-Anne. They met their first semester during their first year at Georgia Southern.


“She worked very hard, I mean her whole being in college was the George-Anne,” said Smallwood. “If something needed to be done for George-Anne, that was taking priority.”


Will Peebles, one of Gorla’s close friends, said that ever since working with her at the George-Anne, she has been an inspiration to him. Peebles works as a reporter at the Savannah Morning News and said that Gorla is the standard that he judges himself on personally and that he couldn’t be prouder of her.


“That spirit, that energy she has for journalism, it’s never left her. It is such an integral part of her,“ said Peebles. “People outside of journalism sometimes don’t really get what it is and why you do it. It’s not about money, it’s not about clout or fame or anything. It’s about being that public service, and in my mind Gorla has always been the north star of that.”


Gorla’s advice to journalism students is to be as involved as possible, get into student media, try internships and gain as much real-world experience as possible.


“Sometimes the stuff that you talk about in class, you may not really know how to handle it or what to do until you’re actually in the situation… it’s giving you the experience that sitting in a classroom and talking about it doesn’t give you,” Gorla said. “Don’t discount yourself either just because you’re a student.”


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