Friday, 10 October 2008

New boss, new chapter?

Spot news reporting reminds me of pressure cookers. If the lid doesn’t fly off, and the contents of the pot exploding *splat* all over the kitchen, the food turns out quite tender and flavorful in a very, very short amount of time, compared to the conventional methods of cooking. A lot of the time, I feel like I am inside the pressure cooker. If I don’t lose my head, I think sooner or later, I’m going to be one tasty dish that everyone would like a whiff or taste of. Hopefully sooner than later…

Our team got a new assignment editor last month – Solon. He was also a reporter on our team, covering Taipei City government, and was promoted. We had dinner together as a group for the first time tonight since the promotion. He gave a little speech, gave us our modified beat assignments (I'm still mainly on health & medicine) and a list of reasonable expectations. Compared to our last assignment editor, he’s much more of a visual storyteller. Up until now, all I’ve really been working on are getting the facts right and writing comprehendible stories, and now, I think I’m finally going to learn how to produce visually interesting reports. I’m quite excited, although afraid to let my expectations of him elevate too much. He sits facing me on the other side of my station, and we got along quite well. I used to go for him for advice on stories and various other things like…food when I’m hungry. The battlement-looking structure that his newspapers, faxes and press releases have created allows us to peek through at each other occasionally to share munchies and jokes. (On a playground, I think he’d be Captain Solon and I’d be Michellabelle.) And because I seem to be the only person on the team who owns a stapler, tape, scissors and whiteout, he came over to my side to “borrow” things quite often, so his is the face that I see the most every day. I still think he took my last tube of whiteout and lost it under his piles and piles and piles of stuff though. I don’t mind his mess, which is nothing compared to the landside danger zone at the adjacent desk to the right that belonged to Banting. Banting took a sabbatical and had to truck away his Mt Fuji of tapes and documents, after spending three consecutive nights sorting it all out. However, the real reason why Solon’s things don’t bother me is that they block my view of the chief editor, who recently, has practically been screaming at all hours of the workday. I really wish she wouldn’t say “林老師勒” so much in between and throughout all that yelling. (That is a swearword that ranks among the most disrespectful.) Mess beats crazy chief editor like rock beats scissors. (Never thought I would choose clutter over anything. Surprise!) She wasn’t like this when I first became a reporter, which was when she first became the chief editor. I used to look up to her so much. So now I am managing my expectations for Solon, for fear that he too will succumb to the pressure and turn into something else.

So far, Solon seems like the boss I wish I had when I first started reporting. As a reporter, he was funny, creative, reasonable and willing to share ideas and eager to teach. Could he be my 伯樂, the trainer that can coach this horse to run like the wind? Or could he be the next victim of the newsroom stress monster and turn into yet another neurotic assignment editor? We’ll see. I hope we can at least remain friends.

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