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!