Investigation: Fired, but still a cop

Out of about 11,000 officers in the state over the past four years, an average of about 100 a year were fired, and more than 40 a year had misconduct serious enough that their own supervisors flagged them for decertification, according to a Seattle Times analysis. Of those, just 13 a year on average lost their credential. The state has never decertified an officer for using excessive force. See the full investigative story here.

I worked with investigative reporter Mike Reicher to intake and work with visual content from public disclosure requests and also find visual ways to illustrate a sort of wonky aspect of the police accountability issue. As a companion video piece to use in the main story and also on social platforms to promote the story, I developed a short video based on an interview with an expert on the issue combined with recent footage from protests and dash- and body-camera footage illustrating the issue at hand.

Investigation: Coronavirus spread at Life Care Center of Kirkland for weeks, while response stalled

The COVID-19 pandemic first emerged in the United States because of an outbreak at the Life Care Center of Kirkland. Interviews with residents’ family members and a review of 911 call logs obtained by The Seattle Times show a tragedy slowly unfolding. And as nursing homes nationwide prepare to protect residents from a virus that is especially dangerous for the elderly, the situation in Kirkland demonstrates a worst-case scenario and a cautionary tale for other facilities. See the full investigative story here.

I worked with investigative reporters Mary Hudetz and Asia Fields and designer/developer Emily Eng to build out this investigative story with the use of audio from 911 calls obtained through public disclosure requests. We mined through weeks of calls from the nursing home to match with known cases and deaths from COVID-19 and assembled an interactive timeline illustrating the slowly unfolding crisis. I also had filmed several press conferences with family members of Life Care resident — those who were ill or who had died and those still residing in the home hoping not to be infected. Together, the elements paint a powerful picture of what was at stake in the handling of the crisis.

Click here to view the interactive timeline:
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See the video here:

Seniors cope with isolation from their “second family” due to coronavirus | The Seattle Times

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across Western Washington, its affect on people’s lives was readily apparent, especially for older folks who were especially vulnerable. Advised to stay in their homes to protect themselves from COVID-19, seniors like Genevieve Benjamin who spend time at the Central Area Senior Center struggle with being secluded from their “second family.”

To capture this impact, I employed several techniques to speak with folks while maintaining social distance — using Zoom, distant outdoor interviews, and being resourceful with the visuals I could gather to tell a very personal story.

See the full story package with Nina Shapiro and Erika Schultz here.

Investigation: Public Crisis, Private Toll

I worked with Seattle Times investigative reporter Daniel Gilbert, photographer Erika Schultz and designer/developer Emily Eng on this robust story package addressing the impact of private mental health hospitals on individuals and the entire industry: Public Crisis, Private Toll: The hidden costs of the mental-health industry’s expansion.

This is clearly a difficult investigation and topic to visualize and humanize, and access to visual information and individual stories is complicated. So a problem-solving approach — as always — was necessary. In this case, we anchored the story with a few interviews with individuals and families whose direct experience illustrate the trends and issues revealed by the data. With limited filming opportunities, I collaborated with Erika who filmed the interviews and newsroom illustrator Gabriel Campanario to create animated drawings that add visual information to the interviews. I ultimately directed and edited the videos and worked with Emily on design direction. That motif was carried through as a unifying motif for the three parts of the investigative series.

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Read the investigative series here.

NO RETURN: The final voyage of the Destination

The Seattle-based Destination went down without a mayday call on February 11, 2017, stunning a Bering Sea crabbing industry that appeared to have left its deadly legacy behind. A former crewman is haunted by what may have gone wrong in the sinking that killed his brother and five others.

I worked with intrepid reporter Hal Bernton on this story to create a dynamic visual presentation using archive video and images and directed, filmed and edited a short doc about Dylan Hatfield and the Destination crew.

The Destination took a lot from Dylan Hatfield when it sank in the Bering Sea two years ago — his brother, his best friend, and his mentor. “Everything has changed. It’s a whole different job now,” he says. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

Hostile Waters: To catch an orca | The Seattle Times

As part of our ongoing coverage of the struggling southern resident killer whales (orcas) who live in the waters of Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest, I created a short documentary, using present-day and archive footage, that dives into how the capture of orcas in Washington ended and the struggle for their lives that continues today.

Live killer whale captures in the Pacific Northwest during the 1960s and ’70s fueled a worldwide orca craze. Puget Sound was the primary source of supply. But a 1976 hunt for SeaWorld in Budd Inlet was a turning point, leading to the end of an era. Just one killer whale taken from Puget Sound survives today.

Design director Frank Mina and news artist Emily M. Eng created this online experience for viewing the film.

Editing: Lauren Frohne
Interviews: Lynda Mapes
Cinematography: Steve Ringman, Ramon Dompor
Photo Research: Colin Diltz

Archival Footage Courtesy of Ted Griffin, Michael Harris and Baby Wild Films
Archival Photos Courtesy of Game Department, Ralph Munro Papers, Washington State Archives
Additional Footage Courtesy of NOAA

Family always comes first | The Seattle Times

A recent collaboration with photo/video journalist Erika Schultz. Searching for a prom-related story at the end of the school year, Erika came across this heartfelt relationship between Juan Betancourt and his great grandmother.

My role:

  • Lead videographer
  • Video editor

Recent Chief Sealth graduate Juan Old Chief Betancourt has learned a lot from his great grandmother. He wanted to honor her the best way he knew how, by taking her to his high school prom. (Lauren Frohne & Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Another shot at life | The Seattle Times

I worked with our grant-funded Project Homeless team to make this first-person profile about Fawn Batten, a downtown ambassador for the Metropolitan Improvement District. Her day job is waking up people who have been sleeping on the streets in downtown Seattle. But her story is so much deeper than that.

Fawn Batten is a survivor of domestic violence and used to sleep in a tent. Now, she builds relationships with people on the street as an ambassador for the Metropolitan Improvement District. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

My role:

  • Reporting
  • Cinematography
  • Video editing

See the story on I used to live on the street. Now I try to help people who still do.

Emily & Pat | Springdale Station | Austin, Texas Wedding

Jessey and I have never in our lives photographed a wedding. We are also not really photographers these days (we make video stories and documentaries). But I knew how much it would mean to my dear, sweet friend Emily if we were the ones to document her wedding day. It was a ton of work, it was exhausting, and we put our documentary photojournalism skills to work. But it was also so amazing to be with my friend through every step of the day. And I’m even happy with the outcome.

Their wedding was held at Springdale Station in Austin, Texas on February 10, 2018.

Here’s a very small edit of my favorite images from the day….



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Three women marching

Back in January, my colleague Corinne Chin and I were brainstorming interesting and engaging ways to cover this year’s Women’s March in Seattle and somehow address the myriad issues that were bringing women into the streets for the second year in a row.

We ended up finding three amazing and brave women who shared their stories with us in advance of the march and, along with our colleague Bettina Hansen, we documented their experience during the march. Somehow, by collaboratively editing, we published this later that evening.

For indigenous women, for city workers to be free of harassment, for opportunities for fellow refugees and immigrants — three women share their stories and reasons for marching. (Corinne Chin, Lauren Frohne, Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Story on Follow three women through Saturday’s Women’s March

How Seattle’s Navigation Team works

Homelessness is a growing, complex, and very visible issue in Seattle. Many housed residents complain of the eyesore and trash caused by tent encampments and put a lot of pressure on the city to clean it up. The city is struggling to figure out ways to address the complexities of each individual’s situation while also humanely dealing with tent encampments.

The newly formed Navigation Team’s job is to help residents who live outside keep their spaces clean and orderly, address their problems and connect them with housing. They also have the difficult job of dismantling the encampments when deemed necessary.

We got a first-hand look at how the process unfolds and joined the team while they performed outreach and closed a camp. And I made a video story documenting it.

Formed in February after a series of camp sweeps drew sharp criticism, the Navigation Team urges people into shelters while removing camps like this one along the I-90 sound barrier wall. Contains strong language. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

My role:

  • Cinematography
  • Video editing

See the story on Before homeless camps are cleared, a Seattle team coaxes people to shelter

VIDEO: Honoring Olga & The Pioneers of PNW Ski Culture

I first encountered Lowell Skoog at a Northwest Avalanche Center storytelling fundraiser event. In addition to speaking about his own life, family and horrific losses while exploring the wilderness, he also mentioned that he planned to put on a makeshift ski-jump tournament to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first one held at Mount Rainier in 1917. He has dedicated much of his life to documenting the history of ski culture in the Northwest, so it makes perfect sense. I convinced reporter Evan Bush to do a story about him and we joined him on the Mountain for this ridiculously fun day.

VIDEO: Preview of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors at SAM

Yayoi Kusama has been one of my favorite artists since I was a freshman in college (15 years ago!). So it was awesome to learn that her signature Infinity Mirrors exhibition would be coming to the Seattle Art Museum. Even more awesome was getting to go to the press preview and making a short preview video to share with our community. I filmed and edit this the same day. Totally worth it.

The long road to Lola | The Seattle Times

Faced with a painful medical condition that threatened her fertility, Gloria Chueca Puerto-Mendoza didn’t have the luxury of time. Would you spend four years, and all your savings, without a partner to help?

Photographer/videographer Erika Schultz and I followed Gloria and Lola’s story over five months, filming their journey from the NICU to their home in Bremerton. And I wrote the text story for print to go with our video story and images.

Full story: How far would you go to be a mother? This young woman had to make a sudden decision.

My role:

  • Cinematographer
  • Reporter
  • Writer
  • Video Editor

Portraits of Homelessness | The Seattle Times Pacific NW Magazine

Pacific NW magazine invited residents of several homeless encampments in Seattle to share their personal stories, life lessons, frustrations and dreams based on their experiences living without permanent shelter. The resulting journal features their handwritten remarks, accompanied by black-and-white portraits that each person helped create. We produced a short video in which several participants read segments of their entries and use slow-motion video portraits to help viewers connect with community members we often turn away from.

View the whole project, with interactive journal: Portraits of Homelessness

Lauren Frohne
Corinne Chin
Erika Schultz

Lauren Frohne

VIDEO: Seattle Womxn’s March

In the course of our reporting leading up to the Womxn’s March in Seattle, we found so many people marching and protesting for the first time in their lives. We wanted to capture that spirit, what was bringing people out into the streets to be heard in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential election win. We decided on “active interviews” with women who planned to be out marching for the first time. This was filmed by me, Corinne Chin and Erika Schultz, and edited by Corinne. We also co-wrote the text story: “Stirred out of our complacency”: Women ready for march after Trump inauguration, and newfound political activism

Additionally, I was out on the streets the day of the Seattle Womxn’s March, filming the massive crowd of people as they filled the entire 5-mile route from Judkins Park to Seattle Center. Danny Gawlowski did the edit:

Winter Hiking Essentials for Women

I’ve been want to post more non-journalism writing, pictures and meanderings — namely stuff about hiking, gear I like, adventures we go on, so this is some of that.

I have a narrow threshold of comfort when I’m hiking. And a lot of being comfortable is having gear that works for you and investing in quality stuff that will work across seasons and last for a long time.

I never really hiked in the snow before moving out here to Seattle, but now we go out most weekends for at least a short snowshoe hike in the winter. So I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error with gear and I’ve read a lot about what other people use.

I figured it might be helpful to other ladies out there who are getting into snow hiking or snowshoeing and want to know what gear or brands could work for them and would be worth the investment. None of these products or companies have paid me or given me products to review free of charge.

So here it is: Lauren’s winter hiking essentials for women…

Clothing Essentials:

Bottoms: Halle Pants from Prana

I’m starting with the worst clothing item for hiking women: PANTS. Hiking pants are the worst. Especially if you have hips, a butt, curves of any kind. It’s like they are always cut for dudes but with the zipper just on the other side. But these pants from Prana — despite the price tag ($85 yikes) — are pretty much the best hiking pants for women.

I’ve worn them on every hike for almost two years and they show pretty much no wear at all. They also keep me warm and dry during snow hikes, even though they are not insulated and are not specifically for snow hiking. I wear them layered with Smartwool 250 weight thermal pants in the winter.

They are slim in the leg, but roomy enough for flexibility and layering thermals underneath. Unlike most hiking pants, they leave enough room for your hips without being too tight in the waist. I am a size 27 waist + 30 inch (or less) inseam and wear a size 6 regular in these.

Another option for snow hikes: Waterproof rain pants like the Torrentshell Pants from Patagonia. I have these in a size medium  and they fit overall, but are a little tighter in the butt. I usually prefer my Pranas over these for snow hikes.

Base layers: Smartwool all the way

I use three wool, base-layer style items for snow hikes:

  1. Women’s NTS Mid 250 Bottom
  2. Women’s NTS Micro 150 Tee (I wear this on pretty much all hikes, winter, summer, anytime.)
  3. Women’s NTS Mid 250 Crew (This is new for me. I usually just wear a flannel shirt)

For me, wool is the best option by far. It’s comfortable, warm, breathable, it keeps you warm even you’re damp, it dries quickly, it doesn’t retain smells like synthetic fabrics and you can wash and dry Smartwool stuff in the machine. I wouldn’t go on a winter hike without at least the bottoms. The tops are optional if you have other warm flannels or sweaters you like to hike in.
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My favorite Washington state hikes in 2016

It’s the beginning of 2017, and I took a little time to reflect on some of the places we explored this past year, specifically where we hiked.

During the summer months here in Seattle, we try to get out for a hike pretty much every weekend — usually in Cascades — and while we didn’t get out as much as we did in 2015, we managed to hike some epic trails and even got a little more into snowshoeing.

Here’s three of my favorite hikes around Washington state that we explored in 2016:

1. Heather – Maple Pass Loop (North Cascades)

The first, most important thing about this hike is that it leaves from the parking lot at the Rainy Pass PICNIC AREA. Not the Rainy Pass trailhead, which is on the other side of the road and leads you onto a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. We learned this the hard way by hiking about a mile and a half along the wrong trail. I was suspicious by the the third creek crossing, since I hadn’t read anything about water crossings in the trail description. We alerted some fellow confused hikers who arrived in the parking lot as we were getting back in order to head to the correct trailhead. Lucky them.

But once you’re on the right trail for the Heather-Maple Pass Loop trail (7.2 miles, 2000 ft. elevation gain), it’s fantastic.

It starts in the forest and climbs for a bit. About 1.25 miles in, you can break off to Lake Ann, which is pretty muddy and marshy so early in the season. It was kind of cool to see from below before you climb above it, since the whole area is carved out by glaciers. But honestly, it was underwhelming compared with how amazing the views are on the way up to the pass. If you’re pressed for time or don’t want to add another couple miles, it’s okay to skip.

We hiked this on July 4th weekend, and there was still considerable snow at Maple Pass, starting just after Heather Pass. We attempted to traverse it since we had microspikes and hiking poles (better equipped than most other hikers that day), but we got a little sketched out on the steepest slopes approaching the pass. It probably would have been fine, but it was late in the season and a hot day and we didn’t want to risk falling down the mountain. We saw one person successfully make it over the pass.

I have a fairly prominent fear of heights (that I’ve really only discovered by hiking in the PNW), and the slopes, both covered in snow and not, tested my fear for sure. Just don’t look down, just don’t look down.

This hike is great even as an out-and-back, rather than a loop, and it’s definitely worth an overnight trip out to the North Cascades. We’re planning to go back this year and complete the loop for sure.

2. Fremont Lookout (Mount Rainier – Sunrise/White River)

We really like the Sunrise area of Mount Rainer National Park. It’s a little less crazy than Paradise and offers some really unbelievable views of the mountain and surrounding areas.

In late September, we camped at the White River campground in the park and finally hiked the Fremont Lookout trail (5.6 miles, 800 ft. elevation gain) that leaves from the Sourdough Ridge Trailhead near the Sunrise Visitor Center.
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