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Looking back on a year: What now?

Posted by on Jan 1, 2011 in Blog, Uncategorized | No Comments

I realize New Years posts are completely overdone. And I really wanted my next post to be about how to use a JQuery library to make interactive tables. And I’m working on that. But I’d like to ask you to indulge me for the next few minutes, as I take a step back to reflect on 2010.

Most importantly, I lived another year with a transplanted kidney. That in itself is 365 days I’m grateful for. Which means that in June, we’re closing in on five years of success. Think there’s some party planning in my future for that, assuming all continues to go well.

But put that aside, and 2010 was still crazy. I moved back to Chicago from a whirlwind adventure in DC, read some books, programmed some stuff, had a lot of interesting discussions with Rich Gordon in an office in Evanston, and literally hundreds of other journos around the nation and the world. I lucked into an awesome PAID internship fresh out of grad school, built things at the LA Times, learned a ton. Saw some of my own journalistic dreams manifest into reality, with a good amount of handholding. Got to observe some of the best news apps in the world coming to life.

At the LAT, I became friends with some extremely patient and brilliant data journos, who specialized in Web development and data analysis. I kept up relationships with countless more journos thanks to social media, who continued to teach me. Got job offers that literally came to me.

Got my dream job, and moved back to the city where it all started about a year prior. And learned enough programming to be able to make what I could dream, but understood I have much more to learn. Became grateful that I always have access to hundreds of people who can help. Always remembered I can’t do it alone, and I wouldn’t want to.

When I entered Medill, I made a resolution to myself. It’s a bit lofty, but I gave myself 10 years from graduation to hit a national organization in a role where I could do something to really change how journalism is done. Not by writing about how awesome it would be if, but just making it happen. The year 2020, I said. But, I hit that goal in 2010. We still don’t know what the journo landscape will be like in 10 years, and the sky’s the limit with what we can pull off. So, when I say “What now?” it’s not that I’m bored, or that I can see what I’ll be doing every day for the rest of my life, or I feel the journey’s over. But what a way to start! I resolve to make the most of this opportunity, keep learning, and be open-minded to what my colleagues in and out of PBS, as well as the public, have to say.

But here’s one more resolution. When you push so hard, you sacrifice. I think that’s true for everyone. Spend more time on one thing, spend less on the other. I don’t say it to complain, it’s just worth acknowledging. If I want to start blogging daily, I need to get up earlier. If I want to lose weight, I shouldn’t be getting that chocolate croissant at Au Bon Pain across from work so often.

Learning programming is never over. The app is never done. The story lives and breathes, as it continues on. But we, well I, can’t neglect the rest of myself. I’m not just an analysis and coding machine. I must remember to do more to make the most of my time in DC, connect with people outside of work, take up those weekend lunch invitations with someone other than the face at the other end of the video tutorial. Gasp, even take an active role in going out, instead of just waiting for folks to come to me. Caring as much about my spiritual and social sides as my intellectual and programming sides. I’ve let them go. It’s time to do better. That’s not a lack of commitment to the work, I just think it will help me approach it with renewed vigor. I can’t force it, but these other parts of myself deserve more attention in 2011. Let’s see how it works out.

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