The Spokesman-Review : interns

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thuy: Come on, everybody, what are you up to?

For the holidays, we're reminded that as a newsroom we are - first and foremost - a family.

When you spend so much time with people in such a close setting, often in a crisis setting, it's hard not to think of them as family. Forty hours a week and everybody becomes roommates. I could just as well introduce everyone to non-news-junkies as "Hi So-and-so, I'd like you to meet my roommate, [common name], one of five people on our floor with that name, but he's the one who [something memorable]."

And for the holidays we wish each other a happy holiday season. We bring holiday food to share, stop at each other's cubicles to talk about holiday plans and take a little extra time to be personal even though many of us are wrapping up everything in order to leave for vacation.

This week has been one of newsroom Christmas letters, cookie exchange, holiday coverage, Christmas Fund, collective chocolate frenzy, and yesterday a reporter brought her baby who fell asleep in the arms of a senior reporter... take note, the baby everybody in the newsroom was anticipating when said reporter was supposedly overdue. We get excited for everybody's happinesses and celebrate one another's successes.

Then today our biz columnist brought baklava - a holiday tradition at his house. (Baklava! The flakiness was perfect. I lifted the top layer of pastry off the top and set it to the side to eat last. I nibbled the nutty part sideways. The honey syrup was slightly tart. The last bite was scrumptious. How do you eat baklava? Holy cow)

Today was a day of complimenting his family on their baklava. We had huddle conversations about Harry Potter theories (who's going to die next?), in addition to talking about our children and making plans to sneak out and go Christmas shopping during lunch break.

We're making memories and making traditions, marking the rhythm of life and the passing of time.

Time may pass quickly in a newsroom but it doesn't make quality time any more fleeting.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thuy: More eschaton

Living in a newsroom is a fabulous twisted combination of living the eschaton, the fast shooter adrenaline rush crazy lifestyle experienced in weird compressed binges.

For crazy days and crazy weeks, there's a flurry of phone calls and deadlines, troubleshooting for design, crunching everything at the last moment to make sure it's perfect, and finally letting the paper go for the night. The Web presence is somewhat forgiving, but print is not. Daniel Henniger from the Wall Street Journal gave it a great descriptor: "...what good newspapering does, is take the chaos that is the Information Highway and submit it to an organizing intelligence - first the reporters and after them a series of editors and copy editors who have the skills, in a few hours, to make that chaos coherent." ("Why We Do It: A Need to Know, A Need to Tell")

Then we get to experience the exhale. We pick up the paper the next morning or on the weekly release day, to experience a soft and intimate slowdown. Procrastinating feels good though highly discouraged.

I have a fairy newsmother who told me we have a very intimate relationship with the reader. As a newsroom, we are welcomed and carried every day into people's homes to sit down in front of them for their reading pleasure. We share a private moment of their day, perhaps as they cozy up in front of the fireplace with an animal or as they experience the slow waking process on a lazy Sunday morning. We try to help readers make informed decisions, relay stories about their community and, if we're lucky, reassure them that there is good in the world.

Let me tell you a story - one about the world that you live in.

We're meditating on a grand scale - Eschaton and then decompression over and over again. As an S-R news junkie, or at least a college reporter and editor, to experience both worlds and contribute to making a difference in my community gives the most amazing rush.

It's almost like a religion.

Off to bed, and tomorrow another day of surprises downtown.

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