Wednesday, January 16, 2002

looking back at the times

I used to work at The Times of Trenton, until Oct. 2, 2001, as a copy editor. I enjoyed working with the others on the copy desk, as well as the editors and reporters I got to know during my time there, I enjoyed the pay -- a $10K jump from my previous job -- and the medical benefits were fantastic. From those standpoints, I have nothing bad to say about The Times.

I did think the condition of the building and our equipment was subpar. The news department was using the ATEC system, a fairly antiquated system that predates PCs. No joke. From what I remember, it was installed back in the 1970s when The Washington Post bought the newspaper. The physical appearance of the building on the inside wasn't much better, which gets demoralizing after a while.

I also thought the newspaper did too much to make advertisers happy and didn't engage in enough hardline journalism. That unfortunately seems to be par for the course these days for many newspapers, but it shouldn't be.

Overall, I would say the newspaper is one in decline, despite the often tremendous things accomplished by staff like Joe Dee, Mark Perkiss and various other reporters.

My biggest problem, though, was my own doing: I took a job as a copy editor, which took me a step further from the reasons I had become a journalist in the first place. No writing, no meeting the people on the street, no giving a voice to the little guy. (I know some people disagree with me on this one, but I think it's an admirable goal for a jorunalist to leave the world a better place than the way he found it; while it can lead to other problems when your perspective gets skewed, it's the heart and the motivation that matter most.)

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