Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Missing my newsroom nicho

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — I used to grumble about it from time to time, but I miss my newsroom nicho.
I flung stuff into the “move now,” “clean and save” and “throw out” boxes, to make way for cleanup crews dealing with the aftermath of the Sun-News fire.
As I tried to make snap decisions about things that have been a part of my life for decades, the realization finally hit me. I have occupied that corner of newsroom real estate longer than I’ve been anywhere else. Ever.
It’s been 17 years since I wandered in for my first day of work and settled into my little cove. The newsroom was very full then, and the late, great, Harold Cousland had told me it was the only desk available.
I was daunted. My last offices in Palm Beach County, Fla., had seemed at least half the size of the whole newsroom, and I’d had them all to myself. One office even adjoined a lobby with a manmade lagoon and a little indoor tropical jungle. With palms. And swans swimming through it.
Colleagues consoled me that I’d landed in a great location in the heart of the newsroom, complete with lucky travel vibes. A former occupant had just gotten a great job and gone off to live with his girlfriend in France, if I remember right.
I scoffed, but shortly thereafter, the paper sent me to Germany for two weeks to cover a Sister Cities trip. I’m pretty sure it was the first and only Sun-News foreign correspondent gig, before or since, that involved more than a 100-mile roundtrip border run to Texas or Mexico.
I already loved Las Cruces, and settled into the newsroom portion of my new querencia. I created a floor-to-ceiling art gallery, and purchased a large, white pre-fab counter to top my battered old metal desk.
I came in one weekend with a gallon of New Mexico sky blue paint and transformed — or at least improved — battered old bookcases, files, tables, a wall or two, and even, with the help of an artistic and rebellious Sun Life editor, made a stab at beautifying the upstairs men’s room.
Most of what I painted was promptly swiped by other departments, but it kicked off the first of several renovation attempts.
I’ve seen lots of ceiling tiles come and go, along with several coats of paint, a couple of layers of carpet, and repeated attempts to get something to grow in the brick planters by our front door. I found a xeriscaping expert who put in some great desert plants that flowered and thrived in benign neglect until one of our new publishers had everything ripped out. He thought they were weeds.
Except for publisher Michael Bush’s gift of a fleet of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever enjoyed, and a nice assortment of Ashley’s furniture, a lot of the improvement efforts turned out to be, as one reporter quipped, “pretty much lipstick on a pig.”
Still, it was our pig.
I’ve spent more total time than I’ve been in my newsroom nicho in a couple of states — Michigan, Oregon and New Mexico, if you add in my two years in Santa Fe. But I’ve moved around a lot, at various jobs, cities and houses within each state … in an apartment and three adobe abodes in the Las Cruces area, for instance.
But during all my local time, except for vacations and a week or two for various in-building relocations for renovations, I’ve been in that same newsroom nicho.
Our interim digs have their own perks, of course.
“How many journalists have worked in a newsroom with seven chandeliers and gilded mirrors?” I mused as we left the Ramada Palms ballroom for more extended temporary headquarters at 715 Idaho Ave., conveniently located within walking distance of Tom Young’s, where I’ve been a regular almost as long as I’ve been at the Sun-News.
We have newsroom windows for the first time, and other new amenities.
But windows and proximity perks, like swans and chandeliers, aren’t everything. I miss my Downtown Mall ‘hood and my newsroom quenencia nicho, and I’m looking forward to moving back home, soon.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450.

No comments: