Monday, July 25, 2011

My God, what a news week.

Most people outside the IHT know me as an arts writer, because that's the part of my work that's obvious to the public. But 60% of the time, I do newsroom work that's invisible to the reader.
For every bylined writer, there's a team  organizing coverage,  laying out print pages, updating web pages, sifting through photos, checking facts and editing stories. News is a messy, slippery business. Just as you think you have a fact or story down, it updates, you get a conflicting report, or someone calls in a mistake.
This week, I'm subbing in as the front page editor, a job I don't do often.
The downside is that the shifts are long, late and stressful -- and I'm usually one of the last people out of the office. This is a pain even when I'm not heavily pregnant. I'm struggling to make it through my days now.
The upside is that -- at least when I'm fully healthy -- it's an odd sort of (masochistic) fun.
The main part of the job is designing the front page. While page 1 decisions are made by many people -- as they are in any newspaper -- I put together the articles, layout and photos.
The weekend I got to do this job, everything horrible happened at once -- the Oslo killings, the China train crash, Amy Winehouse dying, the endless drip-drip-drip of the U.S. debt debate, and the continuing aftermath of the shameful British media scandal. 
Of course, not all news is hard-breaking news. There are also broader, longer features -- on Pakistani spies, or Chinese businesses on Wall Street.
Then there's the instinct to balance the misery with something uplifting and fun, like the tail end of the Tour de France. The above were all the stories I read at work recently.
My doctor told me to reduce work stress. Ha! This is the sort of weekend that would give any editor a heart attack -- and it's only Sunday night. One shift down, eight to go.
I wonder if, after several months of maternity leave, I will miss working?
It's clear in my mind that having a healthy, happy daughter and caring for her with all my love and energy is my priority over work. I'd rather be home with my new child than thinking about all the misery of the world. News is not a particularly happy subject, and nobody -- at least nobody with a heart -- ever gets numbed to the daily death tolls and horrible images. 
But I'm curious how I will feel stopping my daily connection to writing and editing after working almost continuously for more than a decade.
Will I be devouring my daily paper like a junkie? Or will motherhood turn my attentions away?
Someone asked why I sometimes don't mention major news events on this blog, particularly ones that would seem to interest me, like Ai Weiwei being released or the British scandal that has erupted in my industry.
I admit that the news coverage here at Joyceyland is patchy. I presume that most people would go to a proper, professional  source, like my employer, for their daily news. 
Ironically, the busier my week is, the less likely I'll blog about news.
Blogging is a release valve for me -- as I think it is for most personal bloggers. After reading about tragedy and conflict all day, it's nice to have another place that's largely cat photos, recipes, shoe shopping, and quips about daily life.

1 comment:

  1. I think the biggest difference after you have a child, is that the political and newsworthy - particularly if it involves life and death, and even more so if that involves children becomes so much more personal.
    News that I'd previously have found sad in an abstract sense can now make me sob.

    After the events in Norway, which unusually I was watching live on TV, I found it hard not to cry as the parents were waiting for news of their children. And then when a Norwegian was winning a part of the Tour de France I had to choke back my emotions.

    Post children I watch less news and read less daily news. I prefer mine in a weekly update like the economist where it's not sensational and has a slight more distance and perspective to it.

    Watch out for tear jerking movies as well!!!