Mad props to journalists

Every day at around 4pm this week, I’ve gotten that feeling. No, it
wasn’t the butterflies in my stomach of conducting a training or doing
an oral presentation. Nor was it the pitter-patter of meeting a new
potential suitor. I was facing nothing more intimidating than a
4-pound high-tech contraption: my laptop. And why was my laptop, which
I generally consider a pretty great and useful object despite my
general unease around fancy technology, all of a sudden making me so
nervous? I have a daily deadline, you see, at 5:30pm each day from
Sunday through Friday of this week, to produce a short newsletter
called Dímelo that chronicles the presence and experiences of the
Latino Commission on AIDS at the International AIDS Conference. It
sounded pretty straightforward at first: produce a thousand-ish word
(though it’s tended to be closer to 1200) newsletter with some photos
every day, send to translator back in New York City. The translator
will then masterfully rework it into Spanish, send off to the graphic
designer, and it should be in the inboxes of everyone on the master
list by morning. Mind you: I have not been writing all the articles
nor taking all the photos; I did some of that, and also edited and
compiled and captioned my colleagues’ contributions. The job also came
with a fair bit of cat-herding, making sure that everyone who said
they will write about a particular session or event actually did so
and submitted on time. But still…doesn’t sound too complicated or
extraordinary, right?

Maybe not to most people. But doing all of this on a daily basis in
the midst of this massive and overwhelming conference has been no
joke. At AIDS2012, you go from sessions to meetings, to networking
receptions, to booth duty from early morning until late at night, and
it still feels like you haven’t seen even a tiny portion of what’s
happening here. Adequate sleep seems out of the question, particularly
as the one time I tried to sleep a little later, I was awakened by the
drills and hammers of hotel renovations. And producing a daily
publication in the middle of all this?!! Oh, right, that’s what real
journalists do all the time, every day, in order to get news to us in
time (i.e., before the competition) for our constant check-ins with
media on our smartphones, or for our newspapers with the morning
coffee. I do imagine that like everything else, it gets easier with
practice but doing it myself, even for just a week, has made me
realize how tough journalism really is. I’ve sometimes wished I had
gone into journalism, thinking wistfully about the travel to exotic
locales, the connection with the pulse of the world, the “discovery”
of interesting and underreported stories. But this week I started to
realize how much work and time and attention this takes. So….mad props
to the journalists! And I’m happy to go back to my regularly scheduled
job, where I do often write and edit on a tight deadline, but nothing
like the pace of daily publications.

Written by Lina Cherfas

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