Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A journalism career requires patient partner

Here is the column I foisted upon shared with Telegraph Herald readers this morning. You could have read it on the TH web site, but I needed a blog post, so it's copied here.

One day a few years ago, a woman, in seriousness, asked my wife, “What’s it like being married to someone famous?”

Her reply: “If I’m ever married to someone famous, I’ll let you know.”

She left it at that, but, setting aside the “famous” part, she could have offered a more expansive answer to “What’s it like?” What’s it like being married to the editor of a community newspaper?

It’s not always fun.

It’s standing by patiently at a public event while a subscriber button-holes the editor on topics ranging from international affairs to delivery service to the comics selection.

It’s uprooting family from one community to another in the interest of career advancement in journalism. After all, precious few communities have more than one newspaper, so advancement often involves relocation.

It’s deflecting efforts by folks who think, if the editor is absent, the spouse should debate a newsroom decision or explain newspaper policy.

It’s planning meals around a husband and father who has yet to accurately predict when he will actually arrive home for supper.

It’s having restful slumber interrupted occasionally by phone calls from newsroom colleagues relating a news development, such as a major fire, or an internal issue, such as a power outage affecting the newspaper office.

It’s spending breakfast time and other leisure moments with someone who can’t read the paper without holding a pen and circling this or underlining that.

It’s all that. I’m not saying that being the spouse of an editor has more headaches or challenges than any other occupation. It’s not like being the spouse of a police officer, firefighter or soldier, who may or may not survive the day, or a doctor, whose life revolves around “on call” hours and emergency summons to the hospital.

Plus, there are many interesting and fun aspects that are associated with the editor’s occupation. (That’s a column for another day.)

What I am saying is that a married journalist, if he or she wants to stay a married journalist, needs a patient, understanding and supportive spouse — one who understands that journalism is an unpredictable field of endeavor involving few short days.

I have been blessed to be married to someone possessing that patience, understanding and support.

I raise the topic because it was 30 years ago today when she said “I do.”

On that steamy Saturday afternoon in West Central Illinois, Ann probably did not realize what it would be like to be married to a newspaper editor. She couldn’t have anticipated it all; even I didn’t know what it would be like.

But I thank God she has stayed along for what has been a most interesting and challenging ride.

Certainly, this editor is by no means famous. But he is extremely fortunate.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful testimony! Congratulations to both of you! Here's to 30 more years!

Brian Cooper said...

Thanks, Jane. If I'm not mistaken, your own 30th is only a few months away.

Anonymous said...

I'm just now reading this Bri. Great job. Kevin (07.02.08)