Monday, September 28, 2009


Here’s the problem: A) It’s Monday. B) I’m back at work after a great week of vacation. C) This is the Transition Week From Hell, the first week our papers will not be printed here in Marengo but instead will be sent electronically to Des Moines, where they will be printed at the Mother Ship's production facility.

I’m sitting here with 10 million memos explaining how to do everything totally different from the way I’ve done it for the last 21 years, including changing every single freaking type font to something I barely recognize. ITC Franklin Gothic Demi Condensed for cutlines? Seriously? What's wrong with helvetica? Everything is changing: deadlines, type styles, column widths, page sizes. I feel like I’m caught up in Dorothy’s tornado, spinning around and around and expecting to see a witch flying by on her broomstick. No, wait. That’s probably my own reflection.

The newsroom is not a happy place right now but we’re all glad we still have our jobs so we’re going around with maniacal determined-to-suck-it-up-and-make-the-best-of-it smiles on our faces. This is different from our every day maniacal smiles. The latest Gannett-induced slash was shutting down our press room and in-house mailing and distribution center. When I started working here in 1988, there were 40 people employed in our Marengo office. Today, there are 13. Overall, our three-county newspaper and shopper operation has dropped from 200 employees to about 40.

The place is quieter today. There’s no steady rumble from the press room, no rattley-clack from the bundler in the mailroom. Never thought I’d say it but I miss the ever-looming threat of our head pressman coming up to the newsroom, rattling a page negative in one of our faces and saying dryly “Did you mean to do that?” while pointing to some incredibly stupid typo in a headline. That guy was the best proofreader we ever had. I’m proofing now. Wee iz inn trubl biig thyme.


  1. More importantly....did you empty the waste baskets and clean the toilet you were in charge of this week? Is the popcorn maker still there?
    Welcome back to reality!!! I much prefer my own little "happy place" in my mind! No wonder people go CRAZY!!!

  2. Hoping for a better day. Hoping also that all your customers know they have a new proofreader with a good sense of humor. Made me lol!

  3. I am so happy I got out of newspapers almost 4 ears ago. I miss it - a little. Twenty-seven years as a newspaper photographer was enough.