Hometown: Joliet resident since 1997; grew up on Chicago's Northwest Side
Birthday: June 25
When I was 15, a teacher complimented me on my writing and asked if I'd considered it as a career. Sure, I said, but how many people make a living at it? More than you'd think, she said, and pointed me toward the school newspaper office. I wrote my first story, saw my first byline and fell in love. I've never wanted to do anything else.
My first job at a weekly in Libertyville paid $9,000 a year (I had to work a second job to pay the bills). I moved on to a daily in Freeport, Ill., and then to the Peoria Journal-Star. When I had a chance in 1997 to become the city editor for the Herald News in Joliet, I grabbed it. After three years, I was lured away to the Daily Southtown, where I was a news editor, features editor and editorial page editor. In 2009, I started my own freelance writing company – Karen Sorensen Media.
I was hired by Patch in June 2010, and was the editor of the Plainfield Patch until May 2012, when I moved over to help launch and helm the Joliet Patch.
I own a house in Joliet, which I share with Alfie, a mutt who looks like a stuffed animal and barks like a wind-up toy. My interests are pretty simple: reading, film, traveling, being out in nature.
I have a strong sense of right and wrong, which is probably one of my strongest motivations as a journalist. I want to expose things that shouldn't be and champion the underdog. I'm extremely intolerant of intolerance, if that makes sense, and I hate hypocrisy. In this line of work, it's hard not to be occasionally jaded but I still have a deep streak of idealism and nothing makes me happier than a story that reaffirms that people are basically good and want to do the right thing. There are far more like that than the opposite, and I try to remember that when I write about the bad in this world.
At Patch, we promise always to report the facts as objectively as possible and otherwise adhere to the principles of good journalism. We also acknowledge that true impartiality is impossible because human beings have beliefs. In the spirit of simple honesty, we encourage editors to reveal their beliefs to the extent they feel comfortable. This disclosure is not a license to inject our beliefs into stories or dictate coverage according to them. Rather, we hope the knowledge our beliefs are on the record will cause us to be ever mindful to write, report and edit in a fair and balanced manner. If you ever see evidence we failed in this mission, please let us know.
For better or worse, I tend to be a liberal Democrat. I've voted for Republican candidates locally when they're more in line with my views on local issues, but nationally I'm more aligned with the Democratic Party. I have not missed one election since registering to vote at 18. I am always amazed at how few people go to the polls yet have no qualms about complaining about elected officials; it's one of my soap box issues.
I tend not to discuss religion in a public forum but admit to being a non-practicing Catholic. I am very interested in the roots of Christianity and find myself attracted to some aspects of Buddhism, particularly the concept of pausing and being "conscious" of what you're doing before you act. For that reason, I've always like the idea of "what would Jesus do"? If more people used that as a yardstick, there would be less intolerance, unkindness and thoughtless violence in this world.