EDITOR’S NOTE: For something a bit different, we offer the Monday bonus: an eight-week series (give or take) of poems that chronicle the legacy newsroom. Each is written from first-person perspective. Together they create the mumbled narrative of a special and sadly contracting culture. The author, Don Nelson, has been a newsman for almost 50 years. You can read his author’s statement below.
CITY EDITOR, FRIDAY NIGHT
This story is too long, and way past deadline
And is not what I asked for.
It needs rewriting and re-reporting and rethinking.
The reporter has left for the day.
The copy desk is holding
A big space in the Sunday paper
On page A1, with photos and info-graphics and charticles.
They want it now.
My spouse wants to know when I’ll be home.
My boss won’t pay overtime.
I missed dinner and can’t take any more coffee.
I was promoted
Because my stories were on time
And fully reported
And fresh and topical and impactful.
Which made be believe I could be an editor.
What was I thinking?
AUTHOR’S STATEMENT: I did not set out to be a dystopian poet laureate of journalism or some journalistic guardian of the galaxy. These stream-of-consciousness ditties are based on experiences from 45-plus years in the profession. They were written tongue-in-cheek with, to be sure, a thick slathering of cynicism, but also with love for the profession I’ve devoted my life to, boundless respect for the people I have encountered along the way, and a fair amount of nostalgia for what we now call the legacy newsroom.
Everyone who runs or receives a newspaper has their perspective, and I can claim nearly all of them. After a long career as a reporter and editor for metro and regional publications, I’m a vertically integrated journalism enterprise: I’m the owner, publisher and editor of a weekly newspaper. I’m also a news reporter, sports reporter, photographer, editorial writer, copy editor and proofreader. I schmooze advertisers, sign the checks, help with delivery, make coffee and take out the garbage. Our readers are our advertisers, sources, vendors, neighbors and friends.
We practice the essence of community journalism. We are meaningful, valuable — and vulnerable.