I was a news editor
, once. When a good friend of mine sought the position earlier this year, he asked me what he could expect. I told him to set aside time each week to sob uncontrollably. He laughed. I told him I wasn't kidding and he laughed again. This went on for another 20 seconds before he finally realized that I was serious.
"It can't be that bad," you say. Everyone says that. Those who say that haven't done it. Is it that bad? I don't know. Is a root canal that painful? Is the Empire State Building that big? Is Courtney Love's career that over?
A lot of good came out of my 13 weeks as a campus paper news editor. The fact that we were at war with the student government and I lost a number of friends as a result is, in the long-run, irrelevant.
This is a love story.
I'm not even sure my love and I were dating yet when the notion of becoming a news editor was thrust upon me. I do remember standing in line at a coffee shop with him when I mentioned that I had been asked — nay, told — to run. We'd gone on a number of small coffee dates after our shared Canadian politics class before I finally summoned the nerve to ask him out on a date date.
"Do you want to be a news editor?" he asked, and it was only then that I realized that I'd made the statement with a great deal of trepidation inherent in my tone. He had pointed out the obvious and I knew it. And yet I ran anyway.
We'd been dating for almost a month when the elections came around. He came to the speech night at the local pub. I gave a speech. I answered questions. My running was, sadly, a mere formality. People were only paying attention so they could decide which of the other two candidates would be my co-editor.
He walked me to the train station when the evening was over. We became so engrossed in conversation that I missed my train, and rather sheepishly called my parents to tell them I'd be another hour. They weren't happy. I cried. He hugged me and brushed the hair from my face.
"It's not the end of the world," he said gently. "It's not like you're pregnant. It's not like we went out and did a few lines." I giggled. "Off my chest," he added, entirely for good measure. I laughed. He's wonderful like that.
That essentially set the tone for the entire duration of my time as a news editor. Things sucked. I hardly slept, I didn't eat well, I was always on edge. You would have been, too. Everyone handles the job in his or her own fashion.
I was at the office seven days a week. I tried to leave early Friday afternoon to go see him. His work shift is an early one. He has afternoons off. For 13 consecutive Fridays he let me nap on his bed. He made me dinner. He stroked my hair while I sobbed uncontrollably because it was the only release I had from the most stressful experience of my life.
Every week he would tell me that it wasn't the end of the world, that I would get through this, that everything was going to be all right and that he was proud of me. Every Friday night I went home ready to face another week.
One of the most common practices in the industry is the post mortem — the meeting where the masthead (or part of it) goes through the previous edition to discuss what was good and what could have been better. I can remember one post mortem from my time at a news editor when I didn't want to leave the room in tears.
Every Friday, he would pull out the newspaper issue that he'd picked up earlier in the week. He'd go through it and tell me about all the things he'd liked. "Did you lay out this page?" he'd ask. "You're so talented. I'm so proud of my news editor."
He was asleep one day when I realized just how much I loved him. It was a mental question and then a simple understanding. Yes, I love him. Let no one and nothing tell me otherwise.
I've been worried as of late. I am about to graduate from university without much an idea of what will follow. I have just thrown off my previously intended career path. It is no exaggeration to say that I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do. But on hearing of this, he comforts me and gently points out that it's not the end of the world.
We are both at career-related crossroads. He wants something else; I want something. But, as either one or both of us concluded while having this discussion recently, we have each other. And we're both going to be all right.
When one offers to tell someone else a a love story, he or she is often asked whether it has a happy ending. I have come to realize that love stories cannot have happy endings. To suggest that love stories end is not happy.
My friend — the one I mentioned earlier — is still a news editor. He has a few weeks left. I met up with him and a group of my other newspaper buddies for drinks a while ago. I asked him how he was handling the stress. He mentioned a few of the more challenging points, gazed into his beer for a moment and looked back up at me.
"It's not the end of the world," he said.