I’ve just finished reading a Glamour magazine article on their website, written by the author in the first person. Some may call this an editorial piece, a column, a non-traditional journalistic feature, or simply a story. The bottom line is that with online content, we get the practical, direct and useful stories that we need, fast, making life both easier for the reader and the writer themselves.
We live in a digital age with digital art, digital news sources and digital information. While we all know this, some may not realise how intimately it can touch someone’s life unless they work within the industry. Whether it’s an online lifestyle magazine or the web portion of a traditional news outlet, the digital age and the way the internet is being utilised is transforming the way we live in many ways. I don’t think I had fully realised this when I was so busy working away full time in the world of print publications. Maybe I was so busy and rushed under deadlines that I didn’t have time to stop and think rhetorically about it.
A woman I’ve known since I was a teenager has been using the internet as a writer for a lot longer than I have. She’s a mother of three young children who writes online, and also works with other writers who’ve already produced two published books. She’s smart and creative. She doesn’t have to sit at a desk inside an office building at a print publication everyday of the week, and probably just about every weekend, if you worked like I did in that business. Although I’m currently working on a piece for a local print publication, I’m writing it from the comfort of my own home. If I have a question, I pick up my phone sitting next to my computer and call the person I need to get in touch with to get the job done. Thinking back on writing from the newsroom almost feels like a former and different life, although I was married with children during a portion of that time in my career. While it afforded me the opportunity to cover such a broad range of stories – from murder cases to school board meetings – I feel like my personal life suffered from working so many hours, by choice, of course.
I couldn’t ever seem to leave work at the office when I was a newsroom reporter. Some full time print journalists may be able to separate home and work life better than I did. I however never mastered that. Shortly after I was hired by Gannett (the USA Today chain, which is the largest chain in the United States), I got a call from the babysitter that my toddler was at home vomiting and had a fever. Mummy was 45 minutes away. I remember sitting in front of my computer at my desk in the newsroom when I hung up from that phone call. It dawned on me the sacrifices being made for me to be there. My editor, a nice young lady, told me I could go home that day so I could check on my sick son. I remember being so thankful towards her, without me even having to ask her. Maybe it doesn’t for others, but that life sure took its toll on me. I don’t regret it, but sacrifices were made to make it happen.
And it’s because of this that I feel so indebted to the digital age.
Every time I see a piece published online that I’ve written from the comfort of my own home, I feel just a little bit more grateful for the luxuries of modern technology than I did the day before. There’s something so personally valuable about feeling like you can make a contribution without sacrificing what feels like your entire life, to have your string of words in print.
I also have to say that there’s nothing quite like typing out your notes for a story you’ll write later from the bleachers at the football field before kickoff, where your 8-year old son is playing. It’s something to ponder that not so long ago, a writer that was a mother of two young children couldn’t sit and write articles from home.