broadsideblog

Life In A Virtual Newsroom

In business, Media on October 13, 2009 at 10:21 am
Newsroom panorama

Image by victoriapeckham via Flickr

Losing a journalism job can also mean losing easy access to a pool of smart, talented, helpful colleagues whose work you know and whose judgment you trust. That’s a serious loss. While every newsroom and office has its share of divas, it’s a rare one that doesn’t also offer a few helpful veterans. Wandering across the room, even into another department, to get a phone number, brainstorm a feature or just share a joke is something I miss terribly. Freelancers are typically helpful to one another, but times right now are very tough and many people are keeping their cards much closer to their vest.

TrueSlant has become my virtual newsroom. Yesterday morning I got an email from PJ Tobia in Kabul pointing me (thanks!) to a fun story — and I alerted another T/Ser to a Manhattan event that might help promote his new book. I haven’t met either of them face to face, nor did I know them before arriving here, but I’ve read and enjoyed their work here. I’ve been chatting via email with a dozen T/S fellow contributors who range in age from 20s to 70s, all across the U.S. Thanks to T/S, I’ve talked via email to new colleagues in Hong Kong and Kabul, two places I’ve yet to visit and am deeply curious about.

I also get a kick out of the exchanges, however tart, that happen within an intergenerational community that (dinosaur alert) even includes the niece of one of my former Globe and Mail colleagues. My sweetie works at a newspaper where daily newsroom tensions can run very high between the 20 or 30-year veterans and the young ‘uns who are sometimes shockingly arrogant, dismissive of the Pulitzer-winning work some of their bosses produced before they were born. It’s easier to listen to someone 20 years younger — or older — when they’re not shouting at you on deadline or sneering at how you perceive and produce content.

T/S is a virtual newsroom like no physical workplace I’ve yet seen: culturally and racially diverse, undergrads to senior citizens, physicians, policy wonks, techno-geeks. No newsroom anywhere would, or could, hire all of us. It should be one hell of a holiday party!

  1. Not only “culturally and racially diverse, undergrads to senior citizens, physicians, policy wonks, techno-geeks”, but even scattered (is that the correct word?) all over the globe. Which makes it even more fun. And yes, all in favor of this holiday party. Please all feel free te come over to Amsterdam. Would 31 december suit you?

  2. Indeed! We get to chat with and learn from journos in Kabul, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, NZ — and even exotic Amsterdam. December 31 sounds great. That would be a moveable feast.

  3. There was the newsroom and, equally as important, the newsroom bar. When I worked in TV back in the day, we simply called ours ‘across the road.’
    Example:
    Q: Show starts in 45. Where is everyone?
    A: Across the road.

    This was followed by knowing oh-of-course nods, and a call (number memorized) to bring the troops back to the studio.

    I learned more in that newsroom and across the road than I did in any journalism program.

    Global, multi-generational virtual newsroom + bar. I think Bill Barol is still working up the T/S house drink…

  4. I vote Martini or Lillet. The challenge will be getting us all into the same physical space.

    Our Globe and Mail unofficial bar was in the lobby of a truly dive hotel, 50 cent glasses of beer.

    For all its arguable pleasures, entrepreneurial journalism performed alone at home in your jammies can be isolating and lonely.

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