By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It took five years to make the photo switch at the top of this column. Funny, but the swap corresponded with a small milestone at the Telegraph — my five-year anniversary as the Lifestyle editor. I remember being nervous on my first day. During that week, I struggled to find a new routine and learn about the Telegraph’s way of life. The sounds of a police scanner, the clicking of keys and the constant ringing of the phone made for interesting background music. I was given a key to the front door, an extension number, a computer, two notebooks and a pen. The only thing on my desk was my Associated Press stylebook and a calendar. Each day, I learned something new — how to file a story, design a page, collect sources, edit copy and more. One of our photographers snapped a quick photo — a requirement for all reporters and editors.
Between that week and my first column, the photo disappeared from the server. I didn’t realize it until months later. Former BDT photographer John Nelson didn’t mind taking a second photo, but wanted to go outside. By then, it was late spring. John did an excellent job, even catching the exact moment the wind lifted my hair from my shoulder. I have had a hard time letting go of that photo for many reasons. It symbolized the beginning of a career and a place at the Daily Telegraph. Every Thursday for five years, the photo has reminded me how far I have come since those first few months on the job.
A lot of things have changed since then, besides my hair style. My job has expanded and now includes putting together Prerogative magazine. A Lifestyle editor isn’t confined to just one section of the paper anymore. I have covered everything from murder trials to fashion shoots to sporting events. After five years, I am no longer the rookie in the newsroom. Sometimes I miss the beginning of my career, but for only one reason. My desk was a lot more organized back then. There have been a few stressful moments — like the day the computer crashed and I lost nearly everything — but no regrets. Each day is different, but set to the same music — a police scanner, clicking keys and the phone. The outcome of the tune is always changing, from breaking news to the latest club note. And through all the changes, the photo has stayed the same. I wonder how one celebrates a mini-milestone in journalism? It is not like I can throw a party, or buy a cake. However, I wouldn’t mind an afternoon sugar coma on a stressful day.
I didn’t think about the photo until Tuesday. Our photographer Eric DiNovo was in the office to take a new photo for Editor Samantha Perry. I decided the best way to appreciate five years was to follow Samantha’s lead. I did all the pre-rituals before a photo — fluff hair, add more lipstick and smile. In her office, Samantha and I picked our favorite lipstick colors, checked each other’s hair and made Eric take multiple photos. It was like senior picture day, just with better hairstyles and no braces. We tried to get other reporters in the newsroom interested, but no one else wanted part of our impromptu photo session.
As we were looking over our photos, trying to pick out the best ones, Samantha confessed it was her first new photo in five years.
“Funny,” I said. “Mine too.”
We have already planned the next photo shoot for 2018. A five-year plan is in the works, for both of us.
Until then, I have plenty of columns and stories to write, people to meet and a desk to clean.
Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BDTParsell.