Saturday, October 22, 2011

The other side of the desk

This laid-off newsman gets cameo, blog link in national story
I’m not particularly shy.

That shouldn’t really surprise anyone who reads this blog — it’s been said I can talk the ears off a mule, and my writing style, I think, reflects that. In a nutshell, I’m more apt to write long than short, just as I’m more inclined to greet someone with a “Howdy-howdy” than a simple, “Hi."

So a friend recently forwarded me a short post she found online:

U.S. News: Careers Looking for stories from people who consider themselves among the 9 mill underemployed. Email me:”

I’ve omitted the email address because the reporter, Benjamin Baden of U.S. News and World Report, probably doesn’t need attention thrown his way from my blog. Regardless, on Oct. 13, I sent him an email with a brief description of my life among the unemployed and underemployed  over the past 10 months and told him I was willing to talk.

He called me Monday afternoon, and for the first time in my life, I was interviewed by another journalist who was writing a story and wanted to use me to illustrate it. But before he called me, he spent some time during the week before reading some of the posts in my — he was doing his homework, trying to become familiar with his subject.

I’d actually half expected to be a little nervous when I spoke with him by phone — as a reporter, I’d often been told how nervous some people felt talking to a reporter. Aside from my wickedly punny side, I don’t consider myself any different than anyone else, although I think that these days, I actually pause to think before I respond to questions. I’ll chalk that up to the growing wisdom that comes with age.

So we talked. He asked questions, and I, true to form, gave him answers. In fact, I likely answered some questions he did not ask. I’m know for my propensity for words, and I’ve warned people from time to time I can talk the ears off a mule.

We had an amiable discussion, and toward the end of the interview, he asked me some questions about my blog and said, if I’d like, he would try to add a hot link to my blog from his story. I told him that would be cool and pretty much forgot about it as the day’s busy-ness swept me away.

He emailed me a link to his story on Wednesday, and I dutifully clicked on it and read, The Ranks of the Underemployed Continue to Grow. I was impressed, even before I clicked to Page 2 where my name appeared. The bottom line is he wrote a damn good piece that was well researched. Further, he treated me fairly and with dignity, and he reported accurately, which is what I expected.

That evening, I noticed on my blog’s dashboard that there had been a slight uptick in page views from people who were clicking on my blog from the U.S. News and World Report articles. That, I thought, was cool.

Thursday came and I was up early and out of the house to interview Elgin’s mayor, so I was unable to check my email until I returned home. What I found was a fair number of emails with this blog’s name in the subject line, which meant people not only were reading my blog, they were taking the time to comment about what they were reading. Their comments ranged from the cryptic to the kind — most were kind.

After sorting through 10 of these, I checked my blog’s metrics, and my jaw dropped.

Most days, I have about 60 people who look at my blog, but by 1 p.m. Thursday, there already had been about 900 page views. Before I’d head to bed that night, the count would be more than 1,600.

Between the time the story was published on Wednesday and late Friday, my blog had picked up about 1,900 page views. Of that total, about a third or so actually had clicked on and apparently read an individual blog post or two. Those who posted comments on my blog were among that latter group.

Watching the numbers grow, particularly on Thursday, was exciting to me because the exposure it represented. My intent in starting my blog was in part to serve as an encouragement to others going through a similar situation, as well as a venue in which I could keep up on my writing and editing skills and even display them for potential employers.

Most of the comments that came in Thursday spoke of that first purpose, which was very gratifying. I’d never doubted that — my monthly page views have grown steadily from fewer than 500 a month to more than 1,800  for September.

But this week Laid off at 51: Seeking joy in change was exposed to a broader audience, and for that I am grateful.