Years ago I worked as a reporter for The Daily Journal, an English-language newspaper in Venezuela. In those days I had the luxury of knowing that any copy I wrote would go through the eyes and hands of a very capable, late-working, caffeine loaded editor who would catch anything before the text was ink on paper the next morning. This was not an excuse to be lazy, it was real insurance against writing that was usually done in haste to meet deadlines. For a second-language writer like myself it also meant reading my copy prior to publication, then reading the printed and corrected version, thus helping me advance my command of the English language by leaps and bounds. Thank you editors!
Flash-forward to the age of self editing.
The whole world is our audience now.
We are free. Which means we work alone.
We can use the internet to put our message out there, with all its flaws for the world to see. But wait, will anyone actually see it? What about short attention span syndrome?
We have desktop publishing WYSIWYG software. So we have become graphic designers even if we could never draw a line.
We have self-correcting word-processing software. But it’s no substitute for that good old editor who corrected spelling, grammar, style, hierarchy and content. Forget not, he could also blurt out exciting headlines without flinching and was a great billiards player to boot.
We can “google” things up and get a zillion listings for any query in less than 0.2 seconds. Which means we have become our own under-staffed, under-funded research department, with no way to ascertain the reliability of many of our sources.
We’re doing video now. Yep. The video guys were always a separate breed, but it’s so easy now… isn’t it?
Did I mention learning how to “blog” and the joys of WordPress plugins? Lord, I’m getting dizzy. Gotta love digital freedom.
Wait, stop me in my tracks. How many words would it take to describe the benefits of being able to publish content that is personal, truly independent and tailored to our specific interests? What about being able to do so from our own living room, wearing boxer shorts, and getting a response from an interested mind on the opposite side of the globe?
OK, I’ll stop complaining now.
There is of course a reason for me to be pondering these thoughts. It’s been almost two weeks since the end of our trip to Merida and I have yet to publish the promised trip report. Trust me, it’s not a bad case of procrastination. I have been truly busy editing images, video, and text and are now close to getting there but have long ago discarded any pretense of journalistic urgency. After all it’s not breaking news and once the material is posted it will be there for a long, long time.
Today I decided to rest my mind by taking a walk with our dog to a nearby lagoon. I took along the binoculars I received at the Toh Festival Photography Contest and was surprised by the quality of the optics. I watched egrets and herons fly south above me, going away in synch with the sunset. Where do they sleep?
Now it’s back to the computer screen. I can only hope when I’m done YOU will still be somewhere out there.