Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Maybe I’ve found my best career

Since being laid off twice as a copy editor, I’ve begun to wonder if maybe the universe is trying to send me a message.

Of course, finding one’s course in life is a challenge today. Technologies yet uninvented may offer amazing opportunities to today’s young people. I mean, when I was 17, the notion of working on a website was unheard of. Computers were still the size of refrigerators and even rooms. Today, a small cellphone or smartphone like an iPhone has more computing power than the computers that were used on the space shuttle in the early 1980s.

After each layoff, I found myself working as a reporter for local news operations on a freelance basis, and have found it to be interesting and satisfying. My web skills are also coming into play, and that’s a good thing, too.

Reporters get to do a lot more than just sit in an office, read copy, design pages and go to the break room for warmed-over sandwiches. They’re out there at meetings and much more getting the information that powers the news business. That’s what it really comes down to.

Part of me misses being a part of presenting the stories to the readers, though. There’s no more exciting place in the world than a newsroom when a big story is breaking and you have to figure out how to redo the paper to make it real in print and how to get it on the website.

I knew that back in the late 1990s at The Palm Beach Post, when I was working on their first public websites, and I knew it when the first news came in that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces. We didn’t yell, “Stop the presses!,” because they hadn’t started yet, but we threw out all our designs and remade the papers, the Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner. The next day, we had newspapers we could be proud of, with the latest information.

People in journalism are rightly worried about the web and its effect on the news business, and I’m one of them. But this is a new way to get the message across, just the way William L. Shirer worried about the effect radio would have on the journalism he was practicing in Europe in the 1930s.

Read “Berlin Diary” sometime, and you see how Shirer was working for William Randolph Hearst’s Universal News Service wire service, and expressed concern about its stability. Married, and with a child on the way, he feared the future. Soon after being assured that the wire service was stable, it closed down and he was unemployed. Down on his luck in Vienna, he found a card from Edward R. Murrow, a representative of that new-fangled thing called radio journalism, and his curiosity about what Murrow was trying to do overcame his misgivings.

Shirer found a new career, as a newsman for CBS’s radio operations just as the news from Europe was beginning to be of big and terrible things: the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Anschluss, Munich, the start of World War II and the British bombing of Berlin.

The message is to embrace the new technology and the new way of doing things, abandon tradition and the old way, and remember that we move forward through every day. I have to remember to find those new opportunities and find my place in them.

No longer a postal worker and college journalism student, I have to remember that now I’m the one with the experience and knowledge to offer. I chose this path, and have to stay on it.


March 16, 2012 - Posted by | Life lessons, The jobless chronicles | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. How delightfully positive! I’m giving you the Edward R. Murrow award for best essay I’ve read from you in quite a while. Good luck with everything and stay positive. Oh, and I had to take a course in stenography way back in 1981.

    Comment by Diana in NYC | March 19, 2012 | Reply

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