There was a living legend in my newsroom. A seasoned coworker who had lost his right arm in an accident during her youth, but was able to write fast enough with his left hand. He had a vast culture and he had among others a very popular column about music, his passion.
He was known among us because he had answers for everything . His memory and his encyclopedic knowledge was impressive. Before the times of Wikipedia and google, when we needed some data, we asked him because it was faster than go to check in a book or an encyclopedia. Sometimes my coworkers used to asked him difficult questions just to try him. In my 27 years working besides him I never caught him in a fault.
Only once, he didn’t know the answer to the question a journalist made him. But he sure knew where to find the answer in a few seconds. Even when the Internet was the king of the information, we used to check with him. He was fast, reliable, and human.
Bright, with a peculiar sense of humor. Resorting to him you would take back an answer and a smile or a laugh. Fernando (FPO) never disappointed us. Only when he got ill too soon and passed away. The companion and friend left us, The legend remain
Recently I wrote a post about my adventures as a reporter related with a terrorist shooting in a gorge. I cannot think in another story to tell you and I’m not reiterating, so here is the link. Enjoy if you decide to read it.
We all seem to insist on how busy, busy, busy we constantly are. Let’s put things in perspective: tell us about the craziest, busiest, most hectic day you’ve had in the past decade.
I don’t know about the craziest day in the past decade. There have been several. But my craziest day had taken place earlier, 14 or 15 years ago, when after a frantic month my boss gave me three assignments for the same day. I warned him that I was too tired and It was too much, but he insisted. I did the work he asked and finished at midnight but at the end I collapsed. I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with a deep depression.
Later I went back to my old job in the newsroom. Every day I had to edit two or three pages of international news which was a frantic run against the clock starting at 4 pm till 11 pm or later. When the time came to do the book of the year, I had to write too reports about what had happened during the year and keep at the same time editing my three pages a day. Those days my schedule was expanded to four more hours in the morning to check the archives, choose the pictures and write.
And I had to find time to tend my family.
I guess any working woman can tell similar stories. So there is nothing special in my busy days in the last decade.
Now I’m similarly busy, taking care of my mom. Above all when we have to go out to see the doctor. She needs help for everything. There is no moment of rest. Only when she’s sleeping. But she doesn’t sleep very well lately.
I remember the days we had to do endless paperwork in order to get some social security help for my mom. My sister and I couldn’t leave her alone, and at the same time we had to go from office to office to achieve something. Really busy and stressful days.
Out of Breath.
Did you know today is Blog Action Day? Join bloggers from around the world and write a post about what inequality means to you. Have you ever encountered it in your daily life?
When I was a young reporter seeking for a good job, I worked for a while without contract for a newspaper hoping they would hire me. After two years there was a job opening in the newsroom perfect for my profile. We were two candidates. The boss called me one day and explained me plainly that they were not going to hire me, in spite I was better and had more merits than the other one, because I was a woman. He said the newsroom had too many women (four) and they needed more men. So I lost a job opportunity simply because I was a woman. Later I got a job in another newspaper. In my new newsroom being a woman was no problem to work hard, but for some reason there was almost no way of promotion. Only one of us made her way up to the top. Nothing for the rest. All the other bosses were men.
When I was first diagnosed with a deep depression and I had to take a leave of absence, my boss didn’t understand it, and asked me, annoyed, how the doctors would know for how long I would be unable to work. I’m sure that if I had had a broken leg, there would be no questions.
You’re about to enter a room full of strangers, where you will have exactly four minutes to tell a story that would convey who you really are. What’s your story?
Good afternoon. Who are you and why do you want to know all about me? I don’t like to speak about myself above all to total strangers. You should explain for what purpose are you interested in my life, so I could decide if I’m interested in give you or not some data or tell you a story. Otherwise you can go to the “about” page of my blog and have all the available public information about me.
I already gave you two valuable pieces of information: that I’m a private person and that I mistrust strangers who want to know all about me in four minutes without giving any plausible reason.
How about this? Once upon a time a woman who hated nosy strangers, even the virtual ones. One day she was waiting for her daily prompt to write a post for her blog when a bunch of strangers asked her to tell them a short story that would convey who she really was.
– Why would I do such a thing?
– Because we want to know all about you in four minutes. We want to know all about all the bloggers of the daily prompt in as less time as possible.
– Some special reason?
– Simple curiosity.
– Get out of here!
But they insisted and stayed. And she was alone in front of so many nosy strangers with no means to throw them out. So she decided to talk:
– One day I was working in the newsroom when a stranger appeared and began to ask me questions about my report. It was an exclusive, so I didn’t want to say a word about what I was writing. But he insisted. It was really annoying. I said clearly I was not going to tell him anything. But he began to try to look over my shoulder to read my computer screen and my notes. I got really angry. By no means he was going to discover about what was I writing my exclusive. I turned off the computer and tried to hide my notes, but he continued nosing around. Just then my photo reporter arrived to give me his pictures. He has no patience with those kind of people. When he realised what was happening, he took the stranger by the lapels and pushed him out of the room.
By the way, he’s on his way with his friends to see me. They are my guests this afternoon. So if you please leave before they arrive, would be the best for all.
What’s the best (or rather, worst) backhanded compliment you’ve ever received? If you can’t think of any — when’s the last time someone paid you a compliment you didn’t actually deserve?
My boss told me once that I was always perfect in my work at the newsroom. But It wasn’t a compliment. It was a complain. He was angry, trying to tell me that I was too slow delivering my reportage because of my obsession to check and re-check the facts, and edit and re-edit the texts to make sure that all was accurate and without errors. He preferred speed. The deadline was pressing him. (To me too). To convince me to stop reviewing my work and deliver immediately whatever I was doing, he used to tell me a Spanish saying who goes: “Best is enemy of Good.” I ended hating those words.
Why, Thank You?.
When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?
Since I left my newspaper, I’m in a permanent writer’s block state. In the newsroom, always busy with the daily news and my multiple assignments, with a pressing deadline with no time to lose, there was no space for blocking.
Dealing constantly with the news and the strict facts can harm one’s imagination. I’m used to write about real facts in a way as objective as possible. If I don’t have any fresh news to tell, it’s difficult to me to write.
The Daily Prompt is a good help to keep alive this blog with new topics each day.
My father was a journalist and writer and he advised me to write every day something creative. Never stop practicing. I must admit that I have a worrisome lack of imagination and sensibility which makes me difficult the task. I usually begin my day with no idea of what to write about.
He kept a diary which is a true literary work. We discovered it when he died. Now I’m trying to translate it from Croatian and I’m learning a lot from him above all about life, but also about how to write. Lately I’m finding inspiration in his writings. Now I have an idea besides de blog and I need to find time to write.
Writer’s Block Party.
Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?
I don’t miss the technology but I miss its sound.
I miss the sound of the typewriters in the newsroom. It created a noisy atmosphere unforgettable, full of life, where it was easy for the journalists to communicate, share experiences and talk without worries. And then, when you had something to write you could easily isolate yourself and focus engulfed in all that noise. I loved the noise of the wire machines and the bells that announced when a breaking news arrived. The whole room was aware that something big had just happened.
Computers brought silence and individualism to the newsroom and with that ruined the atmosphere. The technology is way better. You can have all you need on your desk, work faster than before, but the charm of the old noisy and chaotic newsrooms have been lost for ever. Nowadays newsrooms are great places but the log ones were special.
Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. Are you a mentor to someone else? Tell us what that relationship has added to your life.
I don’t have a mentor any more. Actually I don’t remember having a mentor other than my dad. He was an open door to me, always available to my questions about life, about my job, about everything, always ready to listen to me. Always there for me. He is part of my life. No matter how may years have passed since he died, I miss him every day. I miss his blue eyes, his smile, his wise words, his laugh, his being silent, his songs, his looking at me understanding, I miss him. I would like to write better to explain what was my dad for me. But unfortunately I have no words, no time to do it.
I didn’t mentor anybody, I think, but I tried always to help my coworkers, above all the younger ones. When I taught at the Journalism School of the University I gave good references about my students to help them get a job. Two of them ended working in my newsroom.
Daily Prompt: Cheering Section.
Mentoring posts by other bloggers on the next page: