With the Fax Machine Mastered, It's Time to Get to Work
Skeel, Joe, The Quill
It's been nearly three months since I took over as editor of Quill Magazine, and finally, I am starting to feel comfortable in my surroundings.
I can now fax documents, and I know how the postal metering machine works. I found the closest deli, because fast food is the devil, and I even discovered a gym nearby where I can go about re-losing the 20 pounds I lost last year.
The day-to-day job duties actually came pretty easily. Determining story content, working with writers, designing pages - these are things I have been doing since my first journalism job in 1996.
I remember walking through the doors of Topics Newspapers for the first time. I was young, eager and pretty much lost. But I didn't have a lot of time to learn the ropes. I was responsible for laying out nine weekly newspapers that circulated in central Indiana. I even helped paginate sports pages for the company's daily in Noblesville. For all my hard work, I grossed a whopping $300 a week.
Welcome to journalism, the career where you work your tail off and get little to show for it come payday.
Luckily, I also earned a public relations degree while at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Someday, I knew, I would get out of the business and actually make money.
Well, that was eight years ago, and I have yet to make the leap.
Like most journalists, I knew going in that money couldn't be the driving force. You have to love the job and the mission that comes with it. It took all of one week on the job to understand the power and responsibility of the press.
Did you know that "bussing" means kissing? "Busing" is a way to get kids to school. So, it's no wonder parents were upset when my headline read that officials from one local school district were "bussing" elementary students for 45 minutes each day.
The error wasn't catastrophic. Most dictionaries said "bussing" was acceptable, but that didn't stop all the former English teachers and wordsmiths in our circulation area from calling.
A valuable lesson was learned that day.
The press has power. We educate, we inform, we anger, we entertain. While doing all this, we must do it fairly, usually quickly and always correctly. There is no other job with this kind of responsibility. It takes a special breed to want that pressure, all the while knowing the payoff in the end rarely comes in the form of a big check - but with the satisfaction from helping others.
And when you boil journalism down to its truest essence, it's about helping others. …