Tuesday, June 17, 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.