I'm a journalist/editor in Taos, NM. ( I got my masters last year in Chicago, so I browse around CL for just such postings.) My dream has always been a novel...and I have been playing around with a few ideas....anyway, I pastd it below.
Sully stared past her, floating above and beyond her phony words, her mock attempt of sympathy. He stared towards the Chicago skyline, imagining himself as a bird darting around in grand loops, encircling the L tracks and forgetting the insipid, grating voice of the bobblehead.
Was this really happening? He was having a hard time coming back down to earth, having a hard time trying to articulate the slender blonde’s wonk-wonk Charlie Brown version of an adult voice.
“You know, Lee, it breaks our hearts to have to do this—you were, are, so much of Chicago Morning’s identity…”
“But times are tough, I know,” he finally managed to say once he returned from his mental flight, remembering he was sitting in the uncomfortable, modern-décor chair in the uncomfortable modern-décor office of his pseudo-nemesis, his editor, Laura Slayton.
“Well, inconceivably tough for everybody else, fatal for newspapers. We’re cutting nearly 20 percent of our jobs…we have to look towards the future and new media…I’m sorry, you know all the statistics, I’m sure,” Laura cooed in that pathetic make-believe nice tone. “But we’ve realized we can’t stay the same old Chicago Morning, even our name is antiquated. Hardly anyone solely reads a morning paper with coffee anymore; it’s all supplemented with our website, 24 hour access.”
Of course Lee Sullivan understood all this, he had just put the possibility of his own demise in the Something to Worry about Later folder, a thought for serious consideration only after he filed whatever story he was working on at the moment. But yes, over the past 15 years, the future of Chicago Morning gave Sully some trouble. While he wasn’t one to shun the convenience of modern technology— he loved how much easier his job had become over the years thanks to his cell phone and laptop— the proliferation of bloggers, celebrity reporters, start-up news sites and the like bothered him intensely. Not just anyone can be a journalist, he believed. Not just anyone can post a blurb, proclaiming it news to the world.
This made Sully part of the old-school, the part of the newsroom that still relished Chicago Morning’s name and original mission of bringing the Windy City “real stories about real people by real people when the sun comes up.” And while the paper still faired pretty well against the Tribune and Sun-Times, readership wasn’t what it was in Sully’s prime. The businessman in Sully knew the Morning must embrace new media, as opposed to just putting up with it, as it had with its simply functional website. It had a few bells and whistles, but nothing like the competitors’. Major changes now had to be made to stay relevant during not an economic recession, but during a major journalistic transformation; Chicago Morning couldn’t get by on its charm.
Unfortunately, major changes boiled down to axing all the old-school.
The bobblehead, with her annoyingly glossed lips and self-proclaimed infinite wisdom, went on.
“But Lee, you’re a recognized entity in this town. You can find some freelance work, or write a book. There are endless options. I think this is really doing you a favor, you can take a vacation, see the world! You were probably going to retire in a few years, right?”
“I was never going to retire. My work is… my life,” Sully said with a sigh, cringing a little at the clichéd sound of the expression. He regretted the vulnerable position he had begun to expose, but at the same time didn’t give a shit. Slayton and the Powers-that-Be were ripping out his heart, powering battery acid on his soul. Screw them. But still, he tried to maintain his admired cool composure and grace.
“…And of course your severance covers you well. I mean, you’ve been here forever, it’d been forever since before I started here,” she said. Sully sensed she was recalling their first encounter. Only seven years ago, she had been an intern from Medill.
Even when she hadn’t known anything or anyone, she made him want to whomp her upside her pretentious head. Or just see her fall on her ass in those Blahnik heels upon the cold, icy sidewalks outside their Wabash & State offices.
“Almost 32 years.”