Journalists wear their profession.
Everything we do passes through the prism of a storyteller. When we watch the news, one ear is on the craft of the writing, one eye honed to the visuals. When something cool or extraordinary happens, we want to immediately be there to pass the story on.
So while you may take the journalist out of the newsroom, you can never take the newsroom out of the journalist.
This week, I officially return to a newsroom to tell stories again.
When my newspaper, the Burnaby/New Westminster NewsLeader, closed in Oct., 2015, I thought I was walking out of a newsroom for the last time. And I was fine with that. I’d cobbled together an admirable career for just over 30 years. I’d seen and experienced a lot of interesting things. I had had a front-row seat to some incredible happenings. I met amazing people. I learned a lot about building and connecting communities. I got paid to be curious, find out stuff.
But with the newspaper industry in its death throes, sucking morale and enthusiasm from depleted newsrooms everywhere, I accepted I’d have to find other avenues to tell stories.
After some time away to decompress and reorient myself to a new path, I did just that. I learned some new skills, explored new topics for new audiences.
But in conversations, I still called myself a journalist, I still referred to the newspaper business as “our industry” when lamenting its sorrowful state.
This is my tribe. For better or for worse.
Then, a couple of weeks ago I was presented an opportunity to pull some shifts for the Tri-City News. While I’d visited newsrooms on social calls to old colleagues, or to discuss freelance projects with editors, this was the first time I’d sat at an actual desk to log in to write a story, download photos from the camera, in more than 18 months.
It felt like I’d never been away. It felt right. It felt like home.
And I’m not just speaking metaphorically. Because my first official day at the News came 26 years almost to the exact day I landed there after being encouraged to head west by the paper’s former chief photographer Craig Hodge.
A lot has changed over that time. But a lot hasn’t. Not the least of which is the drive and determination of a small newsroom to keep the citizens of three growing communities informed, share their stories, help out when there’s need, call out when it’s required.
It’s what we do. It’s who we are.