I've been home for a week after wrapping up an amazing summer in Portland, Oregon where I had a fantastic internship at The Oregonian. I've had a couple of days to reflect on my experience there, and I can't help but shake what an amazing and encouraging staff I worked with. I'm not going to lie, my first weeks at The Oregonian were very surreal. When The Times-Picayune cutbackswere announced, the effects reverberated in The O's newsroom. Because The Oregonian is owned by the same publisher as The Times-Picayune (Advance), I think a lot of people felt that the loss of a daily paper in New Orleans and a move to heavier content online was inevitable in Portland at some point in the future. But I had just arrived at The Oregonian and knew my time there was limited, and I felt like a voyeur looking into the effects it had on a newsroom.
As reporters worked to figure out how they could prevent possible future cutbacks, I started panicking about what my future held. I had just graduated with a journalism degree a month ago — a degree that I always knew was not a slam-dunk for a future lucrative job, but figured if I was passionate and hard-working, it wouldn't matter so much. But now here I was, interning at a place that was an example of everything I had been warned (or had not been warned) about in J-School. And I started to wonder whether I should look at other industries — did I have a plan B? Was I even good enough to hold it together to find a job anywhere?
But thank goodness for Beth Nakamura. And Thomas Boyd. And Faith Cathcart. And so many of the other amazing staffers at The O. Beth and I had many long talks about journalism — in my second week, she told me that she had long ago mourned journalism and could not do so any longer. She helped me take a good look at myself, at my work and at my future and taught me how to really get zen about photojournalism. She helped me reach a place where I could tune out all of the "death of journalism" news and the warning of layoffs and cutbacks, and to just appreciate the art and craft of a profession I love. And of course we had some amazing talks, along with Faith, about juggling motherhood and work.
One thing is for certain — the staffers who helped me at The O are incredibly awesome humans. Even if Boyd wasn't in the office, he'd reach out to me through APAD or email or anything to give me unsolicited encouragement and feedback. And I always felt so welcomed, being invited to lady-photog nights with Beth and Faith at the bar. Even if I didn't know who was talking to me, writers and designers would constantly walk by my desk, complimenting me on a nice picture or congratulating me on a section front. It was a great, warming atmosphere to be in — threat of cutbacks or not — and by the end of the summer, I felt so fulfilled and encouraged to go forth and conquer whatever the future held for me. And though I don't know what shape or form my future will hold, I know photography will be a part of it.