Member Spotlight: Laura Emery, Field Editor for Cooperative Living Magazine

Laura Emery, field editor, Cooperative Living

This week's Member Spotlight is on Laura Emery from Cooperative Living magazine. Read our full E-Press from this week here

Name: Laura Emery

What publication do you work for and what is your position? 

I'm the field editor for Cooperative Living magazine. I write statewide and local page articles for the magazine, and do accompanying photography. I shoot three to five cover images a year for the magazine as well.

How long have you been at Cooperative Living? 

17 years

Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started? 

I'd always been interested in writing and wrote all the time growing up. As a child, I was a reporter for a local homeschool newsletter and even got to interview Buzz Aldrin. But, for some reason, I never planned on doing it for a living. Through a series of events, God's plan for me began to unfold and I ended up here at Cooperative Living at 21-years old.

How did Cooperative Living get started?

Cooperative Living got its start on November 1, 1944, as a publication published by Southside Electric Cooperative. Eventually, the magazine would grow to serve 12 of the 15 member-cooperatives of the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. With a total readership of more than 1.25 million people, it is the most powerful communications vehicle published in Virginia.

Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you're committed to in your work and life? 

My mother instilled in me a love for writing, which was further shaped by a creative writing teacher I had in high school. Once I landed at Cooperative Living, Bill Sherrod (our publication's editor) became my mentor and helped me refine my skills over the last 17 years. I'm not sure I'd be the writer I am today without these three important people.

What's something new you're working on?

I'm currently working on developing an online public relations plan for promoting the magazine online, and expanding our readership in terms of age demographic. I wrote a cover story in our October issue on the Kindness Rocks Project and it opened some new opportunities for our publication in terms of expanding awareness and interest among younger readers. I'm very excited about doing my part to make Cooperative Living an informative, interesting and appealing publication for all of the co-op members we ultimately serve.

What advice would you give someone new to the business?

Never lose your passion. If you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, you'll feel passionate about what you do. Never let it get to where it's just another assignment and you're slapping words on paper just to get a paycheck. Believe in what you do--in every story you write, or every photo you take. Believe that you can use your talent or skill to help effect change in the world, in some small way. And then watch beautiful things happen.

What is the best book you have ever read?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I used to hide under my blankets at night as a kid with a flashlight reading it. And, to this day, all is not right with the world unless I've read the book at least once every three years. The book is so beautiful to me - story line and words -that it feels like I'm reading it for the first time, every time.

If you could interview one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Corrie ten Boom. She was a Dutch watchmaker who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Holocaust during World War II. She was imprisoned for her actions, but, ultimately, freed by her faith in God. Her incredible wisdom - in her biography, The Hiding Place - came from her journey through unbelievable pain and challenges. I think interviewing her would be fascinating, as she is evidence that we can all be used for a greater purpose and good.

What lessons has your work life taught you?

You'll always be your best and do your best when you're where you're meant to be and doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Are you optimistic about the future of the news media industry?

I am. I think it will require some transforming of the way the news media industry does things, but I think the role it plays will always be essential and appreciated.

This conversation has been edited for length.