Tales from the Cubicle

My workspace is this dreary little cave tucked away in the back of the features newsroom. The walls are grey, my desk is grey, the carpet is some kind of charcoal and my chair is pale blue (which, to my colorblind eyes, might as well be grey). About half of the florescent lights on the ceiling are burned out, which means our end of the room is lit only by our individual desk lamps and the small amount of sunlight that filters past the copy desk.

Everyone else has pictures, posters bobble heads to brighten up the place. I’m an intern, which means my desk will only be my desk for the next five weeks. Thus, I’ve done little in the way of decorating, unless leaving old copies of the paper everywhere

Swag smurf.

counts.  Luckily I have Papa Smurf, my loyal desk fish, to keep me company.

There’s water damage on the ceiling in the stairwell leading down to the sports department, which is just as cavernous and dank as features. The metro newsroom isn’t much cheerier, with the plastic sheets and ladders of the ongoing renovation crowding the shrinking editorial staff. There are empty cubicles everywhere, and the words “furlough” and “layoff” get tossed around way too often.

It’s no secret, newspapers are a rough place to be right now.

We talk about it every week in our intern meetings: How bad is it? Where are we headed? How long can we keep it up?

It’s what we talked about today when we met with Greg Branson, AME of Presentation and InnovationIt was an interesting talk from a person whose job I usually wouldn’t consider interesting. Branson works on the website – overseeing the coding and design and working with the programmers that make it all happen. I’ve never really cared much about design. I’ve always thought of it as secondary to content –  a necessary, but fairly low-priority part of the process. I’ve always thought that if the content was good enough, design didn’t matter, and anyone who doesn’t read what you have to say just because they don’t like how it’s presented, well screw them.

Unfortunately that’s not how the world works.

That was Greg’s big message to us: “Be platform agnostic.” In other words: “Stop being a nostalgic print snob, Blake, and learn some multimedia skills.” He’s right. I need to start thinking about making myself more…God, I hate this word…marketable. It can’t hurt anything. No one ever screwed up by knowing too many things about their field of study.

I like to write; I hope to make my living off it one day. But who’s to say I wouldn’t like lending a hand with the web once in a while.  I’m taking a multimedia planning class in the fall for this reason. I might love it, I might hate it with the rage of 10,000 rabid possums – but either way, it’s part of the plan.


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