Last night we watched Spotlight. It should win the Oscar for best picture this year. Like papers, it's incredible. It made me long for the newsroom. I worked for six different papers but there's only one newsroom I'll ever miss - Albuquerque Tribune. The Trib closed in 2008. It's newsroom stands empty today. I met my husband in that newsroom. I worked for the perfect boss and with inspiring & talented photographers, writers, editors & designers. I produced great work there and absolutely regret not working harder, doing more, doing better.
I never tried to work for another paper after the Tribune. I tell people it was like being a rookie who won the Superbowl their first season. It couldn't ever be better. No paper, no staff, no town, no nothing could ever be as good as what we had there.
Go ahead and call me dramatic but look at the face of journalism today. Powerhouses of print are scraping for survival. Our beloved small market paper died right before large market papers folded (do you remember Seattle's Post Intelligencer or Denver's Rocky Mountain News, among others). Staffs were cut to sub-skeletal levels at the big boys (New York Times & Washington Post).
Whenever newsroom nostalgia grips my husband or me, we wallow for a moment and then smile. We wouldn't be where we are today or even together if we hadn't lost our jobs at the Trib eight years ago. The journalism landscape is different but the impact of sensational stories is irrefutable (thank you Serial & Frontline).
Photographers are always separated from the heart of the newsroom (thank you darkroom days) but we weren't immune to the buzz. Deadlines or big stories, breaking news or the eve of project publication, all of it made me feel like I was part of something important, something much bigger than myself. The work was always for our readers. Telling stories, getting invited into the lives of strangers to reveal their truth to the unknown, faceless reader was a privilege. God, I was lucky to get to do that.
Today, Phil is working on his novel & I'm a wedding photographer. We're still telling stories. We still have deadlines. But c'mon, it's no where near the same.
There was a rogue night parade during the holiday season. A local politican glad-handed down Main Street with Christmas carols bumping out of a blown speaker and costumed supporters passing out prepackaged bundles of deliciousness. I'm incapable of ignoring a parade and there was a giant blow-up Olaf. Bedtime came and went as we camped out and waited for the hullabaloo to pass. Somehow, the politican's propaganda, published garishly on newsprint, found it's way into our daughter's hands.
Maybe becoming a journalist isn't a choice. Maybe she naturally appreciates print. Maybe selective screen time is damming her as much as I'm afraid it is. Maybe her parents will never be part of an investigative journalism team that blows the lid off a shocking story and inspires massive social change. Her parents were a part of something incredible. We did work for a newspaper we are very proud of. We continue to question everything and seek truth. And we will always tell stories.