all grown up

June 15, 2011

Hi internet!  I’m back!  After a whirlwind month in which I’ve slept in beds in five different states and one district (nine cities all told), I am settled and in one place again, roughly speaking.  I also started my summer gig on Monday.

You may eventually get accounts of road trips, moving, more moving, the farm, more moving, and then a crash course in journalism, plus lots of beer with old friends, but for now, you just get to hear about my job.  Which is awesome.

I’m working for a regional paper — it’s no NY Times, but it ain’t exactly the Bumfuck Weekly Herald either — and effectively, I am their science desk.  This isn’t so great for mentoring and such (I’m accumulating outside mentors), but it’s fantastic for learning to track down my own stories and be an independent reporter.  I’ve had a bit of the “how the hell did I get here?” feeling going on the first few days, though, because I pretty much skipped all the steps I feel like you’re “supposed to” go through.  Granted, I’ve read a lot about science reporting now, and got a 3-day crash-course from some of the best people (that was my visit to DC), but that’s not much in the way of training.

It’s been amazing to start working, though.  Everyone is thrilled to have a science reporter back at the paper, and all the local science press officers (there’s a whole ensemble of them, given the amount of research that goes on in this area) are practically salivating to send me things.  I felt incredibly valued and important to the paper before I even did anything.  And even better, I don’t feel pressured, since usually science doesn’t have the front-page, must-be-first news value that things like murder trials and congressional veto overrides do.  I love this job.

And today, I made the paper.  No idea where I am in the hardcopy (haven’t checked yet — I’m going in a bit later since I stayed a bit later last night seeing my brief little story through the editing process), except that it’s somewhere in the B (local) section.  It was a crazy experience to write my first little piece, turning the whole thing around in less than a day when the scientists I talked to worked on it for years.  Crazy, but fantastic.  I actually wanted to stay and work on it.

This is such a novel change from graduate school that I’m not really sure I’ve processed it yet.  Working furiously and staying late because I like what I’m working on?  Turning around something for publication in less than eight hours from start to finish?  Being able to learn about Parkinson’s disease one day, and about methane emissions the next?

I.  Love.  This.  Job.

P.S.  If you want to stalk my stories, just ask, and I’ll send you a link.  I got a link from the homepage today (yay!).




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