The last full-time, honest-to-goodness job I started was five years ago, as a copy editor for the Chicago Reader. It was my first job out of college, and I marked up dozens of paper manuscripts each day, scribbling the wierd hieroglyphics of proofreading marks in the margins with a little blue pencil. The manuscripts were elegantly large and scroll-like, and I felt a little sacred (silly as it sounds) each time I carried a completed page to the copy chief's desk and laid it softly atop the "Proofed" pile.
Later, I got promoted to staff reporter and churned out the 6000-word cover stories the Reader still printed in those days. On my way to and from my editor's office I'd see my own words piling up on the copy chief's desk. That was something.
And, that was a long time ago. Last week, I spent a long time staring at this:
Every now and then, I wonder how I got here--and I feel incredibly lucky. A couple years ago, I decided to transition from successful long-form, feature news writer to fledgling interactive designer/web producer/new media storyteller thingy, for reasons I'll get into another time, and joining the Bay Citizen team as its web producer is an amazing opportunity and challenge.
Some days I do feel a little like an interior decorator trying to install the plumbing. But most days I learn, like, three cool and important new things about how people want to get and use information online, and how we can build that. There's real meaning in code snippets like the one above, and the effects they trigger on the screen can make people think and feel things, and want to know more. That's the best I ever hoped for as a writer, and my plan is to one day feel as comfortable and powerful with code as I did with words.
Here at the Sandbox, I want to share that learning, and hopefully start a discussion among other writers-turned-tech producers in other newsrooms.