I’ve been offered a job. The largest group of community newspapers in Ontario is starting a new newspaper, and they’ve asked me to be their opinion columnist.
Metroland Media Group is owned by TorStar, the people behind the Toronto Star. They own 105 community newspapers across Ontario, and publish 4.75 million copies every week.
I was told they found me through my “other” blog where, until last month, I’ve been writing about watching my son grow up, and random stuff about Canada.
Which is what they want me to do. I’m just waiting to find out about the little stuff, like payment and whether I’ll be an employee of the paper, or a freelancer.
The editor I spoke with told me he’s a “fan” of my writing. He used that word more than a few times.
There’s a lot of craziness in this offer. I guess the first bit is, I was just about to give up on having a career in newspapers again. I’ve been out of work, and concentrating on my recovery, since 2002-ish. Working as a reporter is mostly about contacts. And the longer you’re outside the field, the fewer contacts you have.
I’ve done some work for the local paper over the past five or six years, but being a reporter in this region means being bilingual. I can order a hotdog and beer in French, but there’s really no need for that more than once in an interview.
I am ready to go back to work, at least part time. But the list of things non-reporting that I’m qualified for comes down to prostitution and door jam. So I was getting quite depressed wondering how I was supposed to support a family.
And then I got a call from a “fan”. But the idea of going from scratch to opinion columnist in a month is a lot scarier than I thought it’d be.
The second bit is I gave up an opportunity in 1999 to write a technology column for the Toronto Star, to stick with the magazine I was at because there was a guaranteed paycheque.
And third, but most significant, I’ll be writing for a newspaper in a city which has been home base for my family for roughly 100-years.
My grandfather and his brothers grew up there, their father worked in the rail yard for his entire life. My mother’s godparents still live there.
It feels like some kind of circle being completed. Or something.
They’re not asking me to move there, the columns they want will be about “Canada” and “Ontario” stuff, so I can write those from anywhere. Moving there next year, however, might be a possibility… but that’s something my girlfriend would have to agree to first.
I spoke to the editor on Monday, and we’ve been communicating via email since last Friday, but I’m still a little suspicious about the offer. I think it’s mostly stemming from doubting my own ability to write a serious column on a serious deadline again.
I can barely update the blog they’ve been reading. So why would they take a shot based on a blog that’s updated so infrequently it has actually lost two “Page Rank” points in eight months.
The last, and only other time, I wrote a serious column on a serious deadline I won an award from the Ontario Community Newspaper Association. But I treated those deadlines like a meth addict would treat the posted speed limit.
I finished writing most of my columns after they had been laid out on the page. Coincidentally I also drove my editors into serious meth addictions. But that pretty much sums up my entire newspaper and magazine career, columnist or reporter.
It’ll be pretty cool if this opinion columnist thing works out… suddenly there’s new hope.
The photo was taken around 5am. I woke up thirsty, and was standing at the fridge when I noticed the sky was an incredible purple-pink-orange. It’s mostly due to a heat wave we had for about two weeks.
Temperatures got up to 46C (108F) during the day, and stayed in the mid-20’s overnight. The humidity made walking feel like drowning. The good news, however, was we got sunrises like this one.
That was pretty much it for the good news until the heat wave blew away.