Wednesday, May 10, 2006


There's no other way to describe it. I go to work every day and try to sort through the unmanageable pile of old newspapers, notes, messages, and post-its on my desk; trying to figure out where my next contact works, what his or her number is, and what the last thing I heard about the issue was. Meanwhile, emails pour into my work inbox, letting me know of upcoming ceremonies, asking for back issues, or trying to find out how to place an ad in the paper. It's chaos, and every week, somehow, I manage to turn it into a 30-page, informative, weekly newspaper.

What's frustrating is that I'm currently billed as "staff writer." Our associate editor was seriously injured over Thanksgiving, and currently is unable to come in for enough time each week to perform the duties that go with the title, which leaves me holding the bag.

I don't mind the extra duties -- in fact, I'm inclined to think they'll change very little when she does come back. I can whip through an A-section layout relatively quickly, and doling out weekly assignments is hardly more than a weekly chore.

However -- it's frustrating to be performing all these functions (and, additionally, writing the stories I'm assigned as if I were a regular staff writer) without any of the recognition. Enough of that.

Suffice it to say, I'm busy.

What I want to do is write stories. It's been great to learn photography, and my old short-time supervisor will undoubtedly grouse that my focus is too narrow, but I went to school to write, and that's what I want to do. I've grown accoustomed to not only interviewing colonels and generals and other persons of significant power, but also to asking them relevant questions. And I've been fortunate enough to build up a rather good reputation among the brass here because of it.

But the time I might spend talking to more principals about interesting topics is unfortunately curtailed by the fact that I need to be constantly collecting and tracking the information that goes in the paper. Tuesdays, I spend the greater part of the evening designing and laying out the paper on dummy sheets and transmitting all the relevant content to our publisher. That's time I could be spending putting the finishing touches on in-depth pieces on the latest court-martial, or translating something from the "Future Combat System" into plain English.

Sorry to bitch.