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Life & Work with Kristine Lazar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristine Lazar.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I always knew I wanted to be a reporter. In my 6th grade yearbook, when asked where I saw myself in 15 years, I wrote “a TV news reporter,” so no one can accuse me of only saying that now. I went to UC Berkeley, and upon graduation from college I set out to find my first job in TV news. I ended up getting two offers, Laredo, Texas and Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Those aren’t exactly two places I ever envisioned myself living, but I was determined to get my foot in the door. I spent seven long months in Wisconsin before leaving the snow behind for triple digit temperatures. I accepted a reporting position in Palm Springs. I was so happy to be back in California. From there, I went to Fresno, then San Diego, which was wonderful because it’s my hometown. I would have been happy staying there forever, but my then-fiance was in LA and convinced me to try to find a job in this market. I got really lucky and was able to get an interview after I sent just one email. I landed the job at CBS Los Angeles in 2007.

In the beginning, I worked a lot. Every shift. No days off. 12 hour days. I slowed down a little bit in 2010 when I had my first child, a son. Three years later, I welcomed my twin girls. After having children, I was eager to move away from breaking news. Covering murders, deadly accidents and natural disasters really started to weigh on me emotionally. Relief came in 2017 when I was tasked with starting our consumer unit, 2 On Your Side. I now focus on consumer-focused investigations and consumer advocacy. It’s a highly rewarding niche, but it’s a lot of work. I quickly learned that there are so many powerless consumers in Southern California, and I have tried really hard to be their voice. Most recently, I have broken several stories on our state’s unemployment system. I have helped hundreds of desperate people get their unemployment benefits during this pandemic, and my reporting helped prompt the state to investigate and crackdown on massive unemployment fraud that has cost taxpayers billions.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has been a long, bumpy and winding road. I had to live in cities and towns that took me away from family, friends and my comfort zone for several years before I landed my “dream job”. I have been fortunate to have a highly supportive mom and dad, who did everything from move me cross country- twice, to helping me with my rent when I made $12,000 a year at my first job in 2001. Many people don’t realize this, but the TV news business pays very little until you get into the large markets, like Los Angeles. I also have a wonderful husband who never held me back from pursuing my dream and never made me feel guilty for missing important dates, like our birthdays or a major holiday, like Christmas because I was out covering a breaking news story. More recently, this pandemic has forced all of us in broadcast to pivot. We had to learn to work remotely and how to do interviews without being face to face. I also have three elementary-aged children, so they have been remote learning for a year now. I can’t tell you how many times they have “zoom-bombed” an interview or I have had them at my feet, out of the camera view, while taping a segment.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a reporter for CBS Los Angeles. You can watch my reports on KCAL 9 News at four and CBS 2 News at 5. I have won two Emmys for my reporting. I would like to believe that what sets me apart from other reporters is my advocacy, tenacity and compassion. I often work after hours and on weekends to bring justice and a resolution to consumers who have been wronged. Their stories will never make air, but I help them because I care. It can be anything from helping a senior citizen get her refrigerator fixed to helping someone out of work make their rent payments by getting them their unemployment check. The letters and phone calls I receive from these grateful viewers keep me going. I once had a man I helped who was about to be homeless due to delayed unemployment benefits tell me that no one has ever been that nice to him. I had never even met this gentleman. I am so grateful that whenever my kids complain that they don’t want me to go to work that I can say “I have to help someone today.”

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
My advice is simple. Do the hard work. Take every shift and assignment that comes your way, especially when you are young and don’t have a family. If you aren’t getting enough work, don’t sit around and wait for it. In the early days, when I was a freelance reporter here in LA, if there was breaking news, I would call into the station and say “need any more help?” and 9 times out of 10, I would get called in. Nothing is owed to you, so make the effort. Finally, be nice, be humble and stay away from the workplace drama. I believe I have survived several rounds of layoffs over the years by keeping my head down and doing my job well.

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Image Credits:

Family photo on beach: Lovesong Events and Photography

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