Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wall Street Journal, Day 17: Hmm...

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Sorry for the rather lengthy absence from the blog. The Wall Street Journal has been fairly humdrum for a few days, and for once this weekend I wasn't scheduled for any shifts at the State Theatre.

A couple of interesting things happened today at the Journal copy desk. I got another major to work on today, for one thing. This one was more challenging than the two others I've gotten so far, mostly because the subject matter---to put it broadly, mortgages---is pretty alien to me. I had to read it, like, three times before I felt like I actually had anything close to genuine comprehension of what the article was talking about; it was very jargon-y (to put it in Joss Whedon Buffy-speak). Well, at least now I have a better idea of what all those NPR broadcasters are talking about when they refer to the current subprime meltdown. By the way: the majors they've been giving me to edit are what they call "ADI's." I don't know what that stands for---apparently, neither do many members of the copy desk---but apparently these stories are essentially fillers that they send to different publishing regions across the country for a particular region to use if an advertisement that appears in a particular space in one region doesn't appear in the equivalent space in another region. So I guess not everyone will be seeing the labor of my hard work, because I definitely sweated a little bit in trying to edit it judiciously. (Not that people really see the labor of copy editors; I suppose good copy editing is supposed to be invisible to readers anyway.)

An even more interesting thing occurred much earlier in the day, however: one of the copy editors came over to my cubicle---for what seems in hindsight like no particular reason---and we got into a fairly extensive discussion about my college education, my plans post-Rutgers, and also the state of newspapers today. Her piece of advice: print is great if that's what you really want to do, but if you have any sort of passion for anything else, then these days it's probably better to go with that. Newspapers are always getting bought and/or sold, especially these days. Now that Rupert Murdoch has made his offer to buy Dow Jones---and just this past weekend, book publisher Pearson made rumblings of its own of possible interest in working with General Electric to acquire Dow Jones---people over there are starting to get a little nervous about their job security. If you don't mind facing those kinds of worries once in a while in such a volatile industry, she seemed to suggest, go ahead. If you do...maybe this isn't for you. All of this is something that I've definitely heard before, so it wasn't particularly surprising---although, for a brief moment after our conversation had ended, it did get me wondering about things, especially since I'm now thinking a bit more seriously about going to graduate school after I finish Rutgers.

More surprising, though, was the way our exchange concluded. Somehow the conversation shifted to my expressing my interest in writing about movies, and she threw out this tantalizing suggestion: maybe I should approach the slot editors and tell them that I'd like to edit something in Weekend Journal or Pursuits. I had never thought of doing this before; I suppose the prospect of editing some kind of entertainment story for the Journal has hovered at the back of my mind once in a while, but I had assumed up to this point that I was basically doing what I was told at this internship. (That's my passive side rearing its ugly head.) Maybe it doesn't have to be like that all the time... We'll see if this develops into anything. I just hope that, if I do suggest something like this to one of the slot editors, I'm not somehow overstepping my bounds or something.

But again, it's amazing that most of the people over there are so willing to help. Shit, even I'm not always that nice!

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