Wednesday, October 08, 2008
My coworkers and I filed slowly into the small conference room in our office, the managing editor of our paper seated on one side of the oval table. For the next hour, she'd tell us what she knew, which wasn't much, but it was something.
All of the bureaus were closing, she said. And the two remote offices would be housed temporarily downtown in our office and another down the hall. The first reporter from South County arrived today.
In essence, the days of hyperlocal coverage writing about the minutae of Town Council and School Committee meetings -- were over, she said. The boss wanted us all to write A1 stories. On our beats, some of the bigger stories would survive, while some of our smaller communities may not even see the light of day in the new paper. We probably won't tell the readers that we're doing away with the zoned editions she said. We should be prepared for the deluge of calls we'll recieve next week.
"We are reinventing the paper and it could be exciting," she told us. "But to get to exciting, we're gonna have to go through a whole lot of hell."
That was one thing we all knew.
In the days since the restructuring began, they've switched beats on some reporters, pulling a municipal reporter onto the blog, and moving the Providence reporter to a national sports beat.
Right. My thoughts exactly.
How we'll cover news in the future is largely unsettled, she said. We may do it by town, but more feasibly, we'll do topical coverage. We should get our dibs in now with beat preferance, so when the New World Order comes, at least our desires have been made known.
I just sent my e-mail to her, telling her that in a perfect world, I'd like to cover either legal affairs, education or news features, in that order.
As I watched my coworkers pepper her with questions, I tried not to be mad. I knew I had no room to be afraid -- everyone else was chalky with fear. I empathized with the M.E., having to go into rooms full of reporters with few, if any, answers. Not a job I'd envy. At least not now.
I tried to analyze what this new world would mean for me, an average reporter. I'd be competing against all of my coworkers for the same amount of space that's in a Monday paper. Ideally, it means I can write what I want, when I want, taking the time to craft stories and delve deeply into subjects. Realistically, it means that I've got to find better stories to tell or find myself squeezed out of the paper.
I sure hope I'll find them by the time we get to the other side.continue...