Thursday, August 6, 2009

A NEW LIFE: Journalists on how they reinvented themselves - Part 3 - Julie Hutchinson

I asked journalists to share their stories of how they reinvented themselves. At this time of great disruption in the business, I hope it's encouraging for those caught in the storm to see that there's life after newspapers. If you'd like to share your story or know someone whom I should ask to participate, please let me know.

Julie Hutchinson - former newspaper reporter (Austin American-Statesman, Boulder Daily Camera, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News)


It’s not like I stopped being a journalist just because I stopped working for a newspaper. The instincts that made me a journalist didn’t disappear with the paycheck.

Living life after newspapers, I’ve learned that those instincts that made me a journalist are part of who I am. And I realize that they make my life a lot more interesting.

For one thing, in a world where not everyone to my left or my right or at the desk in front of or behind me lives by the same instincts, I’ve learned that asking questions isn’t natural for the rest of the world.

I might ask a checker at the supermarket about the unusual spelling of her name and discover her parents had wanted her to be a boy. Or ask about the class ring on the finger of a nervous young server at a restaurant and discover he’s writing his first novel. Or make an observation about the spectacularly groomed moustache of an elderly gentleman in the seat next to me and watch it unleash details of an astonishing life story.

Working as a newspaper reporter trained me to produce something that’s real and of value, preferably every day. Now, that thing of value might be baking a cherry pie or writing a press release for a client or running an errand for my elderly father.

But growing up and becoming middle aged in the city room of a metropolitan daily newspaper formed me in ways I can’t undo.

Whether you end up retired, or changing careers, or working in new media, you will always be more curious, more observant, more demanding of yourself and more interested in the lives of others because you worked as a journalist.

You’ll be the one who volunteers to produce your club’s newsletter, or your town’s history book, or your family’s memoirs. You’ll be the one asking questions at the end of the lecture. You’ll be the one debunking your neighbor’s latest doomsday prediction.

I don’t have a daily newspaper to work for any more. But the instincts that helped me in my work as a newspaper reporter have helped me adjust to a new life.
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Here's a link to Julie Hutchinson's Web site.

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  1. Julie, I worked with you at the Austin American-Statesman, do you remember? I have been wondering about you for YEARS -- wondering what ever happened to you, what twists and turns your life took, where you lived, where you worked. Was thinking this morning, out of the blue, about how beautifully you always wrote -- and decided to Google your name and see if anything came up that might indicate "whatever happened to you." Found this site with a pretty recent date, so I hope this gets to you!
    You were, hands down, the most talented writer I ever worked with or read. I'm thinking of a story you wrote -- and if you have it in your clips somewhere, I WISH you'd send it to me because it was positively the most beautiful thing I ever read -- about your grandmother's old dishes. You ALWAYS wrote with heart and soul -- and I have long wondered where I could read more of your work on a regular basis, it was THAT outstanding.
    Drop me a line, if you get a chance -- would LOVE to hear from you!
    This piece on journalists reinventing themselves was, again -- like all of your essays -- a delight to read.
    Let me know where I can read more of you!
    Becky Knapp
    Former Reporter
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