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article imageProfile of a Digital Journalist: Making a Weiss decision to be a writer Special

By David Silverberg     Feb 22, 2013 in Internet
She loves hip-hop and basketball. She dreams of being published in Rolling Stone. She writes to distract herself from a chronic health condition. Find out more about Layne Weiss, a Digital Journalist since March 2012.
Celebrating her 31st birthday today, Weiss has long been known on Digital Journal for her many passions: In her 475 articles, she's touched on hip-hop icons, important health news, NBA updates, to odd quirky features.
She takes an under-the-radar approach to her online presence on Digital Journal, commenting rarely and only blogging once. She's humble and nonabrasive. She doesn't talk a lot about herself on this news network. But today her story is finally heard, and we're proud to present Layne Weiss' life in our recurring Profile of a Digital Journalist series.

Early years

Weiss was born in Michigan, and although she enjoyed her formative years, tragedy struck her family in 1987. Her brother Brandon passed away after failing to find a bone marrow transplant donor. She was 16 months older than Brandon when he died, and felt very close to him, so heartbreak hit her hard and fast.
Her parents tried to give her a normal life after her brother's death, sending her to camp and letting her play basketball whenever she liked. In those years, she began to love music, thanks to her mom and dad who took her to concerts often. At the time she couldn't appreciate it: "Seeing Robert Plant live isn't so exciting for a 7-year-old girl," she recalls. But soon after, she soon began to fall in love with artists such as Madonna and Joan Jett. It wasn't long before Weiss found hip-hop and well-known producers such as the late J. Dilla.
"I never cared or knew a thing about beats before learning about Dilla," she says in a phone interview. "And the fact he had to leave this world so young is so incredibly sad, but his music lives on."
It wasn't long before Weiss developed a passion for writing. As a political science major at New England College, she penned a 75-page thesis paper she sincerely enjoyed writing. She soon began blogging, cheekily naming her blog ChangingLaynes, about a girl moving out of the suburbs and into the big city. After about three months, she began writing for some other blogs, mostly fashion and music posts. In February 2012, she reported for a hip-hop magazine called Yo! Raps. Moving to New York gave her a deep understanding of the American rap scene, while also exposing this suburban girl to big-city living.
And then in March, she discovered Digital Journal.
Digital Journalist Layne Weiss checking out hiphop albums.
Digital Journalist Layne Weiss checking out hiphop albums.
Courtesy Layne Weiss

Finding a digital home

"I joined Digital Journal because I was looking for a canvas where I could share my writing and make a bit of money." She scoured many other news sites, but Digital Journal just felt right.
"Of all the sites I've found, Digital Journal has seemed the most honest, sensible, and easy to follow," she says. "I also really enjoy the way we're encouraged to support each other whether it's through editing another journalist's article, or liking an article."
At times, Weiss feels like she has to write."If don’t do it, I'd feel this weight on my shoulders that needed to be lifted," she explains.
As to what she reports on, she tends to shy away from the more popular topics she knows other Digital Journalists will cover. With her pulse on the hip-hop scene, Weiss was proud to see such a big response to her coverage of the death of rapper Capital Steez, which attracted more than 15,000 pageviews.
She also has a passion for raising "the awareness of all the different groups of people persecuted by the Nazis or killed in other genocides," courtesy of her grandparents who survived the Holocaust. She adds, "I often wonder if this would help bridge the gap and create more peace and understanding. It is this curiosity that continues to inspire me."
Digital Journalist Layne Weiss with her friend Jimmy Jacobs. Photo by  Gayle Weiss
Digital Journalist Layne Weiss with her friend Jimmy Jacobs. Photo by Gayle Weiss
Courtesy Layne Weiss

Sick but staying positive

Unbeknownst to many on Digital Journal, Weiss suffers from a chronic illness that keeps her bed-ridden. Living with her parents now in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Weiss deals with cyclical vomiting syndrome, often caused by intense migraines. Six years ago, this condition first struck her, causing her to lose a lot of weight and forcing her esophagus to stop working at some moments. She sometimes needs IV fluids.
"When I'm stuck at home, writing always help," she says.
"If I don’t write and sit and not do anything, I begin dwell on how I'm feeling. Writing gives me purpose and makes me feel good."
Weiss is proud to be part of a social news movement she sees as a significant contribution to the media conversation. "Citizen journalism complements mainstream media beautifully," she says. "I don't see it as a threat because I think the journalism world can only benefit more from both."
Speaking of mainstream journalism, Weiss holds one dream close to her heart as a writer. Being published in Rolling Stone is a goal she's striving towards, she says.
Knowing how determined this woman can be, no matter what challenges she faces, we wouldn't put any dream past her. And we look forward to seeing where her byline spreads across the world.
More about Digital Journalist, layne weiss, Journalist, Writing, Michigan
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