The First Month of Reporting for the New York Times

The New York Times building in Manhattan. Image source: Wikipedia

My first month at the Times is over, but time passed so fast that it felt more like a week. I have learnt more than I could have imagined in this month and I have been proven wrong so many times, about so many things.

First, of course I know that editing could make a story better by leaps and bounds. I knew it in theory. I had read about it. I had heard tales of how mythical editors had swooped in and created Pulitzer-winning stories. But without an ounce of shade on any of the wonderful editors I have worked with, I will admit that I had never seen this magical editing process with my own eyes. At the Times I have seen editors take my speedy reporting, add context, flair and sweep and turn into in a fully fleshed story that can stand on its own.

Working in an absolutely empty newsroom on a Saturday

I will repeat that I have worked with some truly intelligent, thoughtful editors in my career. The difference simply is that the Time is so well resourced that editors have the time, patience, and willingness to pore over your copy with attention to the tiniest detail – at other places editors are often so overworked and underpaid that they have already been stretched to the limit. At the Times, I have been taking as much advantage as I can of editors’ ability and willingness to teach me all that they know about journalism.

Second, in Hollywood movies and Twitter subtweets, Times journalists are never described as they are: collaborative, generous, and thoughtful. Everyday I am surprised by how warmly I am continually welcomed to the Live desk, by how much trust and faith editors place in me to bring them reporting from various corners of the world, and how gently they teach me how to improve my writing.

And lastly, I am (pleasantly) shocked that even after a decade of writing features, long-forms, essays and opinions, it merely took me days to shift gears and start writing snappy, hard news stories. And  I am even more surprised by how much I have been enjoying this kind of reporting and writing. Of course, the learning curve is steep and I only have a month to soak up everything that I need to, but my eagerness has not dulled through the month, and I can only see it grow through July.

Living in Brooklyn allows you beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline from Domino Park

I began the month on the Covid-19 Live briefing desk, and since then I have been shuffled between Covid-19 and Ukraine, and once a week I am put on ‘surge’ which means I can be covering anything from the Jan 6th hearings, to migrant deaths in Texas, to an earthquake in Afghanistan. Not only does each desk have a different editors, but even the same desk changes editors on an almost daily basis. That leaves me working with new people almost every day – it’s difficult to explain how much that has helped develop skills of working with new editors. Working with new editors has helped me be more adaptable while simultaneously also helping me to perfect my basics, because even if editors are changing daily, the basics will remain the same.

Working for the Times Live desk really does feel like the sweetest cherry on the IWMF’s Neuffer Fellowship. It’s been the perfect combination of growth, forming meaningful relations, and bylines that make me proud.