Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yeah for me

Date: June 17
Mileage: 42.2
June mileage: 462.2
Temperature: 57

Yes, this is completely just a bragging post. I learned today that I received a first place award in news page design in the 2007 Society of Professional Journalists’ Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism competition. (Take that, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana!)

This is a big deal for me. Maybe even bigger than winning the 24 Hours of Light! (which also will happen this month, by the way. Ha!) I've mentioned before that I'm on a somewhat rough and rocky trail in my career right now, but navigating that kind of terrain makes the podium placement that much sweeter.

I think some readers of my blog might be surprised by the fact that while I play one on the Internet, I'm not actually a writer. I'm a graphic designer. I tried reporting early in my career, but after several brain-numbing city council meetings and reprimands for not being hard-hitting and confrontational enough, I drifted over to the other side of the newsroom. Now I work in copy editing and page layout. I love it, and I'm good at it, but it doesn't transfer well beyond the lumbering Titanic that is the newspaper business. Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts laid out my current situation well in his column today: "Virtually every newspaper is going through the same thing: shrinking profit margins, declining circulation, staff cutbacks and morale at subterranean levels as journalists struggle to figure out how we can save the American newspaper. But I have come — reluctantly — to believe we can't. We must blow it up instead."

I can argue my case all I want ("But I'm a good page designer! Look, I'm an SPJ best!") It won't help me much once media sources phase out newsprint and replace it with online design (which, as you can tell from this blog, I'm not so adept.)

Still, I can work. Here. Now. In beautiful Juneau, Alaska, at what is, despite all, a pretty great newspaper with a pretty good, albeit one-and-only, news-page designer (Ha!) And I'll adapt with the changing times. Earlier in my career, I'd be pretty stressed out about this situation; I'd probably be dusting off my 1997 food handler's permit and digging out my old law school applications. This is another area where my traveling and cycling habits have changed me - I've not only become better at embracing my own strengths and weaknesses; I'm so much more willing to embrace the unknown.

OK, tomorrow, back to your regularly scheduled bike programming.


  1. Yea jill! Those awards don't come easy, so enjoy basking in that warm glow for as long as humanly possible! c~o~n~g~r~a~t~u~l~a~t~i~o~n~s

  2. Way to go, Jill - I am glad you are getting the recognition you deserve. And as for those skills not translating - balderdash. I'm making a decent living with about half the effort doing graphic design, pr, etc. and people are blown away by my efficiency and attention to detail, both of which I credit to a decade under the deadline gun with the threat of public humiliation hanging over my head.
    But I would hedge a bet that you could make the switch to digital world pretty easily. Seems to me you were pretty passionate about the things that make journalism humm, not to mention a writer that was missed by the community long after you were gone.
    Don't sell yourself short. Life's not long enough to go around doing that.

  3. Congratulations. The way you laid out your blog says lot about your skills. Enjoy the accolades. Great pictures of Alaska .... love that place. Having never been there but heard lot of good things through my friends. Good luck at the NewsPaper. Enjoy ...

  4. Well done Jill! Still wondering when you will get started on that book. Captivating narratives + beautiful photography = good book.

    You could even write some magazine articles...Backpacker, Outside, Bicycling.

  5. Jill, that is *outstanding*!!!

    I second what Vito said- When you write your first book, it's gonna be a bestseller.

  6. Soooooooo, are we going to be able to see said design?


  7. Congrats!! I too cannot wait for the book!


  8. Congratulations. And how do you like that? I've learned that two of my favorite bicycling blogs are run by news page designers! (Roger Kramer's is the other one.)

  9. Good Job! I bet that does feel good! Maybe you could do layout for MAGAZINES?? Outdoor? Bicycling? National Geo?????

  10. Congratulations! It's quite the achievement. Unfortunately riding doesn't pay the bills for many. It's doesn't hurt being good at what pays the bills.

  11. Fantastic. I'm really happy for you and I don't even know you.

    I'm riding on the book bandwagon. All you have to do is submit some of your best posts to an editor along with some idea of the format/ storyline you will be using. Toot your own horn a little and mention your award and your marketing opportunity via the blog and friends of the blog. I don't know if you realize the potential there. I really think you are looking at a couple day's work getting it together for a query. You have got a lot of positives that I think an editor would look kindly upon.

  12. Congratulations Jill!

    David, your former neighbor.

  13. you go girl! it's always nice to be recognized amongst your peers. glad to hear that you are staying optimistic...
    -namaste, erin

  14. I had no idea you were a designer. Congratulations on the award. That is one great accomplishment. I've been a designer for 6 years and I've received as many as 0 awards.

    Congrats Again! It's a great portfolio piece.

  15. you better win that 24 hours of light now that you're talking trash about it. wish i was going to be there to see how much you would beat me by.

  16. You're awesome Jill. Congrats on the recognition!

  17. I am glad the goodness of your work and the goodness of your blog have prevailed... Bruce

  18. Mike from MelbourneJune 18, 2008 at 8:01 PM

    Well done Jill!

  19. That is fantastic news Jill! Congratulations!! I don't know anything about the 24 hours of light race, but I know you will do well while Geoff is getting his ass kicked on Richmond Peak.

    As for me, a week from now I will be enroute to Helena, MT to do another few hunderd miles of the GDMBR. This time I am going to sneak up on Colorado from the north. I've got tons to do to get ready again.

    Congratulations again!! Keep writing...

  20. Congrats Jill :) I have a suspicion this is the first of many awards and recognitions.

  21. congratulations on the first place! :)


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