When I awoke from my Sudafed induced Thanksgiving nap, and my sinuses returned from turkeys back into their normal shape, my thoughts turned to trying to play catch up and get a head start on the week ahead during an unfathomable holiday weekend.

The to do list in my mind was not all that long — I’d finally get around to writing this monthly piece so I could meet my self-imposed end of the month deadline, followed by a couple of networking emails. …

I was curious about how a friend of mine was doing, so I decided something that I hadn’t done in a while — I’d sit down and write a letter.

No, not an email — a letter. An actual letter that is stamped and is sent to the recipient through the vast network of the U.S. Postal Service. …

Halfway between Montreal and Toronto lies the town of Picton, Ontario, in Prince Edward County. In 2009, Picton received a visit from Stuart McLean, journalist, author and broadcaster, who came with his crew to tape an episode of The Vinyl Cafe — the program from CBC Radio in Canada that became a staple of some line-ups of American public radio stations.

The episode, “Dave and the Elevator,” featured McLean’s reflection on Main Streets, and spoke of the reinvention that Picton went through, and the resilience of the county’s government seat. …

In journalism, there are six words that guide each story — who, what, when, where, why and how. They are ingrained into every journalist’s psyche, and every journalist knows a story can’t exist without those six words at the forefront of a piece. Yet, there are six more words that have been fully ingrained into journalists’ psyches since the coronavirus public health outbreak began — layoff, furlough, enemy, fake and pay cut.

Those words have become not just part of prominent headlines surrounding American journalism, but also words that make up the circumstances that have impacted journalists, especially in the last few months. Those words are ingrained as journalists, like the people of this nation, try to navigate the challenges of this new environment — working from home, balancing childcare, and ensuring every deadline — personal and professional — is met. …

When I started writing this essay, the clock on my computer told me that its a few minutes before 3am. By the time I’ve finished this, it will be Monday morning across the contiguous United States — or what would be construed as a normal Monday, and I’m trying not to hit another wall. I’ve returned to my computer after 3 days where I didn’t really do anything. Yet, at the same time, I felt guilty simply because I didn’t do anything.

In the weeks that we have adjusted to life in the COVID-19 public health outbreak, self-care has been a difficult thing to accept, because of the questions that are in the back of my brain about not just the future of journalism, but also my life and my role in journalism. …

Earlier Monday, Michigan became one of several US states in the last few days to announce an executive order declaring that its residents should stay home, that non-essential travel should not go ahead, and one should only go out unless one absolutely has to.

The order, which takes effect at just after midnight local time, is in effect for at least the next 3 weeks.

“This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives.” — Gov. …

Whilst flipping channels on TV the other night, I stumbled upon an episode of the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers. I hadn’t seen very much of the show, and tuned in late, but had been looking for something to watch. However, a particular moment of the episode I watched stuck with me.

One of the episode’s focuses was on the creation of the Burger of the Day, and Bob’s struggle with writer’s block. He began with one idea, the Say Cheese Burger. The idea wasn’t well received, and it was clear that Bob had hit a slump.

As the episode had progressed, there comes a scene where his wife, Linda, takes a phone call from a customer asking for a Burger of the Day. Bob, still feeling discouraged, explained that the Burger of the Day had been a significant source of stress and that he didn’t create those anymore. Linda said to make the customer something anyway. …

Jennifer Brandel did not mince words. The journalist and founder of the engagement journalism organization Hearken had seen enough of how American politics had been covered in modern times, especially in the 2016 presidential election, and knew that changes were long overdue.

In 2019, plans for covering the 2020 presidential election had been on the minds of news organizations across the country for a while, and as coverage aspects were being considered, Brandel said it was time for a cultural change into how elections were covered.

“No longer as news organizations can we presume to understand what our public needs from us, nor can we assume that being first with the latest salacious turn in a campaign is what actually matters. …

It’s a late hour on a cold night as I try to muster any ounce of creativity that I have. Any idea of what I want to write and what thought I was going to have alternates with whether or not this essay is worth it or I’m worth it.

This channeling of creativity (or lack thereof) is an act of trying to remain resilient — and it is easier said than done.

It came through a text message early Monday morning — a friend of mine sent along an article from The Washington Post spotlighting the launch of a brand new publication.

It was called The 19th, named after the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution declaring that the right to vote in America would not be denied based on gender. Co-founded by Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora (both recently of the Texas Tribune), The 19th is focused on reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.


Alex Veeneman

I'm a journalist and a member of SPJ. I edit The Tip Sheet and am working to make journalism better. Any views expressed here are my own.

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