Archived Story

The old switcharoo

Published 11:28am Friday, May 31, 2013

It’s been an interesting week.

Last Thursday I packed up my laptop, camera and reporter pads in the car and set sail for Tallassee.

My assignment? Oversee the production and completion of one edition of The Tallassee Tribune – five days in a foreign land, behind an unfamiliar desk and at a strange new keyboard.

When the idea was first proposed, I was reasonably sure I had drawn the best hand in this game of musical editors. The idea was fairly simple – we would observe how things operated and then compare notes to try to improve both of our publications.

I was responsible for one paper – one. Ashley, who was tasked as being my replacement for the week, inherited the responsibility of overseeing five editions of The Outlook along with the weekly installment of The Record.

But I would learn more than I bargained for in my short time across Lake Martin.

First of all, these past five days have reaffirmed my love for energy drinks and solidified my hatred for waking up early.

My day usually starts at 9 a.m., which gives me time to be at work by 10 a.m. With a 40-minute commute and a daily start time of 8 a.m. sharp, I was jet lagged by Monday afternoon.

The idea of a set schedule was nice – however, I am not quite sure I would trade those extra few hours of sleep for the promise of consistently leaving at 5 p.m.

I also learned that the amount of time it takes to do a certain task does not necessarily represent the amount of productivity lost completing that task.

That is, while it only takes a few seconds to get up from my chair to go answer the door (a job that usually doesn’t fall on me in Alex City), the resulting loss in productivity was devastating.

I would be mid-thought and the door chime would ring. By time I would get back in my chair, settled and resume what I was doing, the door would beckon again.

The pace was certainly different, but it wasn’t necessarily easier. Putting out a paper on a daily basis is like driving on the interstate. Once you plan your route, barring any unforeseen traffic jams, you cruise along a fairly constant pace until you reach your destination.

Managing a weekly paper, however, was like driving in stop and go traffic. I would set out on a task and then have to slam on the brakes and handle something else. For someone who thrives on structure, the zigzagging journey was a little haphazard for my liking.

It was like trying to cook a meal in someone else’s kitchen while they were out of town. The fundamentals of cooking were the same, i.e. our papers utilize the same tools and ingredients to cook up the week’s news. However, our kitchens were organized quite differently. From day one to the very end, Ashley and I were in constant contact.

Where do you save photos? Where do you save ad copy? Will the phone ever stop ringing? Why is this entire drawer full of candy?

I can honestly say I have a newfound appreciation for our sister publication in Tallassee, and hopefully Ashley left with the same.

But I can tell you this – it’s good to be home.

Nelson is news editor for The Outlook.

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