EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of odes that chronicle the legacy newsroom. Each is written from different 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.
To see previous poems:
PHOTOGRAPHER, UNDER THE GUN
My day started
At 7 a.m., taking pictures
Of an apartment fire
Caused by a toppled lava lamp.
(I had to ask some old people
what a lava lamp is).
I got the “money shot:”
A fireman carrying a squirming kitten
Out of the building.
(Dead kittens never make it into the paper.)
There used to be five of us
But now there’s just me
Running my ass off all day
All need photos right now!
All the reporters are taking cell phone pictures
Because who cares if they’re good?
Anyone can do it.
Don’t even get me started about video.
What idiot thought that would work?
A day’s work for 3 minutes of story
For people who aren’t subscribers
And don’t have the attention span
Required to read a newspaper
And don’t look at the online ads.
Monetize that, assholes.
At 5 p.m., before I cover the high school basketball games,
The city editor says, “We need wild art for tomorrow’s paper.
Something cute. By 6. Whatever you can find.”
“It’s dark,” I point out. “And we already have the kitten.”
“Kitten is online only,” the city editor says. “Hundreds of hits all day.”
The city editor knows I will find something “cute”
Involving kids or animals or weather
Or kids with animals enjoying in the weather,
Because I always do.
Which now seems like a strategic mistake.