This morning, the AJ crew visited the New York Times. They're one of the (if not THE) most reputable papers in the country and living in New York state for the nearly half a year, I've become quite familiar with their publication.
We were shown around the cultural floor, which came in varying sections. There was a news desk area with a television type setup, meeting rooms, and cubicles sections for different departments. It was funny being taken past each department and guessing which they were before being told. The books sections' desks were almost completely hidden in stacks of books all around. A desk in the music section was covered entirely in cd cases and huge volumes about Mozart and other composers.
I could tell immediately when we got of the style department. The first cubicle I saw had ripped out ads and editorials from magazines posted all around and even its own coat rack. The coat was this season's orange color. And the whole cubicle was much more organized that any other that I saw. Clearly this was fashion land. Our tour guide, James Oestreich (classical music editor), casually pointed out a man across the room who had just walked in, naming him and asking if anyone had seen the documentary about him. I nearly fainted; it was Bill Cunningham (As you all might remember I wrote a post about him here). I kept looking back, hoping that he would walk past and I could shake his hand while gushing about how much I love what he does. Alas, we continued on our tour.
We learned a lot about the paper today, all of which was informative, but I couldn't help feeling a little discouraged at the same time. Oestreich started out as a football player in college and never had any kind of formal training in writing. Yet he's an editor at the NYT. We've lately been finding out that this is the case with a lot of journalists. It makes me wonder if having rigorous writing training is as necessary as I believed it is. It seems that a lot of people just “fall in” to writing. Funny how things work isn't it? But then, I think about where I am (at the NYT, for example) and I realize that without this program, there's no way I would be here. I wouldn't be in that building, meeting all these important people, in this huge city, in this entire state.
That makes all the difference.