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March 10, 2012 / Gina D.

Print to Web: A personal transformation, Part 5

Catch up: Read Part 1 of this series | Read Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Hi, Shraddha.

This is probably a long time coming…

I’m sure you’ve already noticed that I have really fallen off the map for SND. I’m really sorry about that, and I’ve postponed writing you this note because I always thought I could get back around to it.

I should have known better.

(snip)

As much as I hate clichés, there’s no better way to describe that week than to simply say it was quite the roller-coaster ride.

At the start, things were unfolding pretty much the way I had expected: exceptionally busy and trying to make up for the fact that I was down half my staff. But everyone working for news organizations are all pretty busy these days, so anymore, I consider “busy” the lowest common denominator — or the greatest common factor, depending on which way you’d prefer to look at it.

The week ended with me starting to compose an email finally relinquishing the role of ;SND’s California State Leader for the Inland Empire. The email, which I finally sent along earlier this week, was likely not much more than a formality. I felt it necessary, though, if only for the sake of being considerate to those who were still at it.

And, as if to remind me that the organization was still evolving, it was almost immediately after I’d finished composing it that the Best of Digital Design list went live on the Society for News Design website.

Interesting coincidence. And… noted.

Truth be told, I should have given up the post a lot sooner. I had tried to once before, but I wasn’t formal about it, and Shraddha was too nice, staving me off with assurances that my neglect wasn’t hurting the greater good. But before long, I realized not only had I not paid my dues, but I had my head buried so far in our three papers’ websites that I hadn’t seen a good piece of ambitious design in months — not because it wasn’t there, but because I hadn’t sought it out. That should have been enough, but still more months passed before I officially relinquished the role.

In fairness, though, a lot of things were drawing my attention elsewhere.

Last summer, I had been promoted from Design Editor for three papers to their Multimedia Editor. It was a more logical transition than is apparent on the surface, and one that has turned out to be much more amazing than I imagined at the time.

Then this week, it got even more amazing, as it was announced that I was among those selected to be part of our company’s ideaLab.

To be honest, I completely missed the initial announcement. I was the only web personnel staffed at the time, and I was madly trying to keep up with some breaking news while also attempting to stay on top of the unusually heavy flow of multimedia pieces being sent to me by several reporters — a nice problem to have, by the way.

I’d gotten a bit behind due to a couple of meetings of my own doing: I had called a meeting with any interested staff to discuss our online progress, hear ideas and answer any questions or concerns from staff. Change is hard, and these meetings have, at times, been a bit tense — that one, especially, as I was peppered with a lot of great ideas phrased in the form of an accusation:

“Why aren’t we doing ____? … When are going to ____?”

At the end of it, though, I’d come out with a long list of great stuff — and I was drained.

Immediately after the meeting, I went looking for our executive editor. “I need help,” I said, plopping down in his office. I recapped the meeting for him, since he hadn’t been able to attend, and we talked through some staffing concerns, strategies amid more mapping of my department’s direction.

“They’re right, by the way. We should already be doing a lot of these things,” I told him. “But most days, I’m just trying to get through the daily posts.”

I can’t say that I left his office re-energized, but I didn’t have time to really dwell on it, either. I was the sole online staffer for several hours yet, and the meetings had put me behind.

I was so buried in the processing that I completely lost track of time, and our afternoon budget meeting was likely half over by the time I’d gophered my head up. I opted to just keep on with the tasks at hand; the emailed photos and videos had been pouring in all day, and as I was trying to maximize our LACMA rock coverage, my alerts starting going off. Emails cascaded in, and my Droid kept beeping at me, generally meaning I had a text or Gchat message, or even a tweet mention. “What more could they possibly be sending me?!” I thought to myself, finally abandoning my LACMA web packaging efforts to flip over to my inbox.

I immediately Gchatted one of our senior editors, who I knew full well was sitting in a meeting I was also supposed to be sitting in:

“Holy crap. I’m in the ideaLab.”

All those pings had been congrats and excited “atta girl” sorts of well-wishes. And turning to scroll through my text messages, I realized she’d been among the first to text me the news, of course.

I was, as I told a few folks thereafter, both excited and terrified. Surreal.

Our editor spotted me in our courtyard shortly after I’d learned of the announcement and came out for a smoke. I was mid-call to my dad, telling him the news, and sharing the story of how I’d come to get the news, so he listened in. I told dad about asking my boss for help earlier that day.

“Now, I really need help,” I said, grinning at Frank. He tried not to smile and took another puff.

I came up with a few ideas about how we might carve out the required 10 hours a week in order for me to stay on track with my ideaLab project, but I knew as soon as I heard the news that I needed to conclude my responsibilities to SND — it’s going to be tricky enough keeping up with the flow of three newspapers’ websites while working through some initiatives affecting nine.

It’s a nice problem to have.

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