A Short Look North

Several councilors and staff members congratulated me on my new job last night at the council meeting. The discussions threw into sharp relief why the transition was a difficult decision.

Berlin has been good to me. My bosses at the Reporter allowed me to chase whatever stories I wanted, and city staff, politicians, business owners and residents always welcomed me into their lives and opened up about stories, issues and events. I’ve been out on my own, but in a community, not just a city.

So why go? Because the Reporter’s resources are limited, and being a one man show in a city of 10,000 is a tough job. Many times I felt outmatched, if for no other reason than because I was alone. To get the resources to handle such a challenge I need to be the least experienced reporter in a newsroom for a while, not the only reporter in a newsroom on wheels.

But I don’t want to give up my connection to the North Country. I’m already digging into some bigger projects with more long-term objectives than a daily or even weekly newspaper. Things are changing in Berlin, some for the good, others for bad. I don’t intend to lose track of that.

I want to tell stories better; that’s what this next move is all about. I want to see how the daily deadline works for me, how the pressure to generate content in hours, not days, affects my work. But I don’t intend to reduce the other projects I’m working on, the larger pieces that fill out the flesh of daily reporting. They tell a side I haven’t been able to get into so far, but it is lining up for the future.

I won’t have the time I had at the Reporter, I won’t have the same flexibility, but a close friend of mine told me she works better under pressure than when she has the time to put things off. I think that’s a universal: when forced to perform, we do. Daily deadlines are one version of that paradigm, as are my non-print projects. I may have to squeeze them in, but in doing so I may just do them more, do them better.

But I will miss the daily connection with the North Country, and I will lament having to “squeeze them in.” But if the outcome is better storytelling, better reporting and a more impactful version of history, the sacrifice is worth it. I may miss the North Country, but it I can tell its story better it’s a change worth making.

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