When a woman miscarries, they sometimes give the mother-to-have-been a funeral for the fetus. Amputees often have ceremonies for their dead limb. Is it possible that I need a parting ceremony for a period of my life? Eight productive years spent languishing? Am I in a grieving period for the prime of my career?
The period in question started in the year 2000, at a company that was just getting the idea to circle the wagons. The eight or nine small-town newspapers in Westchester and Rockland Counties, NY, bought throughout the 20th century by Gannett (of USA Today fame), were now one regional entity: The Journal News. A year later, they hired me for the art unit in their marketing department.
Till then, what I’d been doing for a living, clients would call temping, but we temps always call agency freelancing. It was one such assignment that The Journal News made permanent. I’d hopscotch between Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT, meeting new people in different shops, seeing and comparing different workflows, and overhearing the button-down communication of scrappy small companies.
Gannett was by far the biggest corporation I had ever worked for. And knowing full well what a hoary tradition a newspaper is necessarily saddled with, I took my cubicle with trepidation, suspecting that I was now a cog in a monstrously vast gearbox. Continue reading