End of an Era

by Beth Kramer

My desk was more than a repository for assorted supplies, notes and snacks. It was a destination that tethered me to the newsroom community.

How is the newsroom community to endure now that the suburban newsroom is no more?

Every Sun-Times Media suburban newsroom is due to close within the next couple of months. Not everyone was given a move-out date. The Gurnee office where I worked was the first to go. Several Pioneer Press reporters as well as Lake County News-Sun staff operated out of the newsroom.

A sense of surrealism lingered as we packed our desks up March 1. Will it ever be appropriate to yell out “I’ve got a body” again? Now that we are working out of coffee houses, libraries or our homes, I tend to doubt it.

I can’t stroll into my editor’s office to discuss what stories I’m banging out for tomorrow’s paper. I still miss the daily face-to-face interactions, but we have online tools now that streamline communication.

We also meet weekly for budget meetings that feel more like reunions.

The change from a traditional newsroom was a scary thought that loomed in my mind for the weeks leading up to the transition into mobile journalists. Since the transition, some of my colleagues were ejected from libraries for using cell phones. Coffee shops are a little noisy for taking/making calls, so the kinks are still being worked out for those who don’t live in their coverage zones.

My car is a haven for quiet calls when I can’t work from home. I am fortunate enough to reside in my coverage area.

Now that I have been mobile for two weeks, I have regained a sense of normalcy.

My days still consist of phone tag, court hearings and writing. It’s just a little quieter.

Yes, the era of the traditional newsroom is gone. But I like to think that as long as our newspaper survives, the newsroom still exists in us reporters.

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