Editor’s Note: Today we announced that Jolene Almendarez, a former reporter with the Syracuse Post-Standard and The San Antonio Express-News, has become the third full-time Ithaca Voice staff member.

We asked her to explain why she’s joining the Ithaca Voice. Below is what she wrote.

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I’m a crime junkie. I blame my mother.

As far back as I can remember, we watched Unsolved Mysteries, Oprah and Lifetime Movies. Newspapers were always stacked on our dining room table and my mom candidly discussed the happenings of the day in front of all her children.

That probably explains why my brother became a police officer, I became a crime reporter and my sister plans to work with at-risk teens after she graduates.

I went to school at San Antonio College and the University of Alaska Anchorage, where I majored in journalism.

My professional career in crime reporting started at The San Antonio Express-News, where I worked part-time before being hired at The Post-Standard in Syracuse.

Almendarez

I probably would have stayed with the company for years if I hadn’t discovered Ithaca on a freezing February night.

I fell in love with the city instantly. I walked around downtown and felt the palpable sense of culture, kindness and energy. I wanted to be part of it.

I heard the story behind the Ithaca Voice from colleagues at The Post-Standard. It was inspiring the first time I heard it. Jeff Stein started the company with a grant and a dream (and perhaps a little hard work). But I started to pay more attention to the website after my first visit to Ithaca.

The Ithaca Voice is not run like other news organizations. It was made to be sustainable by focusing on local advertising and stories. The site feels like it was made for Ithacans because it was made for Ithacans.

Being part of such an organic news organization is worth taking a chance on because it gives the community the kind of integrity it deserves in news.

I hope my stories in Ithaca start conversations, make people mad, and capture beautiful moments. I hope people are changed by them. I hope I’m changed by them, too.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.