Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not a bad day at the office

Part of getting used to the new gig is learning to live without deadlines.
As a 24-hour news cycle, Ann thrives on having new stories each time readers log on. So when my editor sent me up to the Buick Open Pro-Am today to see Ann Arbor native Bob Seger play golf with Tiger Woods, I figured it would be an interesting day.
After finding Woods' group on the 8th hole, I started following them inside the ropes thanks to the media passes the PGA Tour offers reporters.
Inside the ropes gives reporters access to more of the small talk and informal moments of a round of golf. While much of a country club's decor stands up during a pro-am, players tend to be a bit more relaxed.
Seger - who was inducted into the Rock &Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, spent much of the day grinding around the course. Before teeing off, he'd often toke on one of the eight cigarettes he smoked during the first 12 holes.
He played to the large gallery following the group, taking time to sign autographs and joke with fans as he played with the world's No. 1 golfer.
Three holes after I, along with an Associated Press intern started following Woods' group, Tiger used a small waiting period to come chat.
It was nothing special - just small talk with a surprisingly laid-back golfer who has the reputation of sending F-bombs to photographers who interrupt his golf swing with their clicking cameras.
We talked about how Seger was playing and he offered up a hilarious Pro-Am story that is best saved for talk over beers.
Woods' group ended up shooting 11-under par. I huddled into a cramped interview space to record Tiger's thoughts of coming back for what may be the final Buick Open. He spoke of a lot of joke-telling and story-telling during his Pro-Am round and talked of how being a father has changed his perspective on his line of work.
From there, it was on to Seger's press conference, which included a lot more laughs and his thoughts of getting his 64-year-old body to last 18 holes of golf.
On the days when this business offers a less than desirable assignment or an unhappy reader that calls to offer up his option of my latest work, I will think back on this day.
There's an old analogy which claims that your worst day on the golf course is better than your best day at work.
Today, I combined the two and enjoyed every minute of it.
Our little 5-minute chat with Tiger was just the icing on the cake.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Starting off

Talk about equal opportunity.
On my first day at, I walked into a room that looked nothing like a newsroom (by design) and found my seat in a sports department that looked nothing like a sports department.
I had all of two hours of training on the software we would write in and enough Apple store training classes to know what I was doing with a flip camera and an editing program.
I had 17 years of reporting experience to fall back on, but I quickly discovered something unique.
On my first day, pretty much everyone else knew just as much as I did.
For better or for worse, we were all equals. In it together. Come what may.
Sink or swim.
My first week's worth of assignments have been pretty basic. An interview with a college football coach. Covering a local golf tournament. Interviewing Michigan basketball players. Writing stories.
Our site launched four days ago. We made it through step one.
For better for worse. Come what may. Sink or swim.
We were all in it together.
But blocks away, my friends and colleagues I had left behind were living through Black Thursday. The day we all had dreaded for months was upon our community - both inside and outside of the paper's walls.
I couldn't bare to drive into work that day. I wrote from home, finishing up a story and a freelance project. Photos and Facebook updates alerted me to what was happening and who had drank how much.
There were parties and after-parties - a wake for a newspaper that had just been confirmed dead. I thought of my friends, but left the day to them, unsure what I would say if I saw them.
There were T-shirts that read, "No News is Bad News." So true.
Now, four days after the final edition ran off the presses, our new journalism venture continues to find its way.
There are people who like us and those who curse us. Those willing to try us and those who will go their separate ways.
But we're all in it together. For better or for worse. Come what may. Sink or swim.

Catching up

Three weeks ago, I faced an uncertain future.
Now, it has begun to take shape.
If even for a short time.
For months now, I allowed the talk of - the new media company replacing The Ann Arbor News - to go on without me. I was determined that I wouldn't be part of an outfit that drove myself and so many of my friends out of work.
But as time passed and no definite employment opportunities in front of me, I gave in to the talk. I began to pay attention to what was going on with the company. I heard a sales pitch of why I should join the team. I created a mental pros and cons list. I wrestled with the idea of becoming a digital journalist.
A digital journalist? I am a journalist, period.
But as I went back and forth whether I would become part of the new venture, I came to a conclusion.
I still want to impact the world with my work. Even if it's working as a sports digital journalist. There are stories left I can tell. The site would offer me new ways to tell them. I could shoot and edit video. I would learn to blog. I would Tweet on Twitter.
So two weeks before the paper was to close, I accepted a job with the as it has become known among my Ann Arbor journalism friends.
I cleaned out my desk at the paper and moved my belongings to our new work space a few blocks away. I said my goodbyes at one office and my hellos at another.
I am thinking this is only the beginning of my great new adventure.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crunch time

In three weeks, The Ann Arbor News will cease to exist.
For many of us, I'm not sure the finality of the event has completely sunk in. But in the last week, the seriousness of the situation has hit me.
As of right now, I have no full-time work lined up after July 23. Both of the employment options I thought were in place have fallen through. I have spent the past five days reaching out to everyone I can, inquiring about possible openings in their media organizations.
So far, nothing.
There are good days and bad. On the days when I find stories to work on, I am energized by the profession I still love. On days when there is little work, my mind starts to creep into the realm of the uncertain.
The questions are everyone.
What are you going to do?
Are you going back to school?
Will you keep writing?
Those around me are optimistic.
"Oh, you will be fine," they tell me.
"You're too good not to be working as a journalist."
"I'm sure you will land on your feet."
So far, nothing has presented itself to let me know that is true.
My faith is being stretched like silly putty. I know this is where God wants me. My career is not my own. Things happen in His time, not mine.
I must be patient. But that - especially when it comes to my career and contributing to covering our bills - is tough. I waver from self-confident to doubtful. My emotions run from hopeful to angry.
I tell myself not to worry. I try to let go. But then all at once, everything comes rushing back.
Three weeks. Twenty-one days. Crunch time.