I Collect Peeks Inside Newsrooms
Journalism is a big part of who I am. And it's the same way for lots of my friends. So anytime I visit them or get a random opportunity, I want to see their newsrooms.
Perhaps it makes sense -- I spent a good chunk of age 11 parked in my mom's college newsroom as she became our family's first journalist.
The Vantage at Kansas Newman College (now Newman University) in Wichita, Kan., was a skinny little room full of traditional college journalists and my mother, who had gone back to college when I was 8. I never suspected I'd be one of them in 10 years as I watched them type stories and use now-outdated software to design pages.
I also tagged along to her first newspaper job at the Augusta Gazette -- a tiny six-days-a-week paper with four people on the news staff. She had a cubicle and a cool chair across from where she pasted up pages for print.
While in Tulsa, I visited my friend Chris Moore who is one of the Web editors for the Tulsa World.
I talked him into showing me his office so I could add it to my collection.
The multistory building is right in the thick of Tulsa's downtown high-rises and has an incredible lighted sign that signals its presence as it rises up the side of the building.
At street level on the back side of the building, windows offer glimpses of the World's press at work -- a feature I'd never seen before. At night, light glows from the otherwise dark facade.
Once inside, the lobby heralds classic architecture. The security guard was not impressed that I hadn't been to Big Bend or any of the other places he listed in South Texas.
It was near deadline, so I kept quiet as I got the brief tour of the large room with the kind of cubicles you can see over when you're sitting down.
Winding down the halls as we left, we passed important headlines and massive news photos, which reminded me of my time in 2007 as an intern at the Los Angeles Times.
The halls at The Times also are lined with old front pages with big-deal headlines on the first floor. On the newsroom levels, the white walls held photos or awards in the hallways, which was great to look at every day as I walked the length of a city block through the building from the lobby to my desk at the opposite end of the building.
When I worked there, the sports department had been remodeled on the third floor, and the features and graphics departments a floor below were updated. The floors above were either now empty or occupied by the advertising staff.
But I had one of the best desks on the third floor -- a window seat overlooking the iconic city hall and mountains in the distance. In the main newsroom, the nasty green carpet screamed 1970s, but the paper has since been remodeled.
I remember the time I drove home from college in 2004 to interview Denise Neil at The Wichita Eagle. Signs hung over their desks marking which department went where. It was the first time I realized my overly messy desk habits belonged to the creative mind of a journalist.
I never went inside The Kansas City Star's building, but during a night at a theater nearby, the glass facade glowed bright and beckoned.
The darkest newsroom I've been to was the San Jose Mercury News -- the lobby was big and full of the sunny California light, but I remember the newsroom having pale gray walls and those tiny windows like you see in basements at the top of the walls.
It's not just newsrooms -- I'm into seeing presses, too.
The first was at the San Jose Mercury News.
It was impressive to walk among the catwalks as the press churned out a special section.
While interning at The Times , I rented my room from a reporter who worked at the Orange County newsroom instead of the downtown Los Angeles mother ship, and one of the paper's several presses runs out of that building. So I visited -- after a trip to the nearby IKEA -- and was blown away by the size of the press.
It's probably 10 times the size of the Tyler Paper's press. One of the press workers took me through every step and I walked out with one of the plates -- a full-page ad for Verizon Wireless. (I still have it with the plate from my first front-page story here.)
But what I didn't get to do there was touch the press -- I got to start the press here once. (It's just a button you hold in as it speeds up, but I'm still waiting for my moment to yell "Stop the presses.") Sometimes, I stop to watch it on my way out at night.
But all my visits have led me to one conclusion -- I think I'm the only journalist without a cubicle where I can pin notes and to-do lists to the wall, but I will keep adding to my collection of visits before I make a final conclusion.
Vanessa Pearson is a staff writer for the Tyler Courier-Times -- Telegraph.
She can be reached by phone at 903-596-6267, email at email@example.com
or on Twitter with @VPearson_TMT.