It was three months ago that I first sat down at this work station, with its neglected eMac and coffee-stained, dust-streaked desk. Whoever worked here before me had a lot of midmorning deadlines… and had been gone a long time before I came.
The desk is a little cleaner (minus my own coffee stains) and the eMac has been much used.
Along the little wall is the decor I picked up along the way to make red upholstery look cheery: from House Beautiful, an airy, neutral cabin room, with a pop of color from an orange throw and blue pillow accenting the room and my desk; a card from the International Justice Mission: “Change Your Life– And The World,” it says. I aim to.
Beside that, a cutout from a bookseller’s catalog, a gorgeous grey stallion. Over the many books is a note from a group called the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting, who wrote me a note after my story on the Detroit bus-ad campaign.
Behind me are scripture memory passages: Romans 5 from last semester, Philippians 4, and Romans 12:1-2. Above the rest sits the monkey (“George,” of course) that my intern desk-neighbor, Sam, left here on his last day on Thursday. I’m thinking of writing a note to leave with George, starting a tradition of passing on the monkey…. yeah.
Those things document my summer here to some extent, and I like that. But I noticed today that the bookmarked pages on my web browser, a few gathered from each of several stories I did this summer, tell what I wrote better than I can remember it for you or for myself.
There’s the immigration law story, which actually was a second take on the boycotts. There was the trafficking story, a summer-long project that didn’t change the world but was published nonetheless, and was amazing to work on. There are my Reporter’s Desktop, Digg, and Delicious bookmarks– what can I say? Today’s news is so much about social media. There are senators’ home pages, lots of them. I speak to Senators a lot, I feel like. Then there are bookmarks of Sweden’s government pages and the HSLDA page, from the story on homeschooling in Sweden, which was possibly my favorite story ever to work on.
These stories have made these three months at the Times fly by. I feel like an old veteran almost– there are staff reporters who have been here a shorter time than I have now. I feel more like a reporter now, part of that cult of journalists which unless you’re part of it is really hard to define. It’s much like the movies in a way: coffee, reporters’ notebooks with almost unintelligible scribbles and starred quotes, endless phone calls, pressing questions, unabashed curiosity, the thrill of a good headline. At the same time, fewer of us are like the annoying and sneaky reporters in movies who border on unethical to get a good story. It’s less glamorous than that, but it’s a wonderful job.