A lot of people loathe HBO’s The Newsroom, largely on account of its fantasist streak, but I love Aaron Sorkin’s drama for its realness. Viewed as a love letter to the machinery of journalism, The Newsroom is often moving and eloquent, and almost always loyal to how meaningful decisions get meted out in that environment. I don’t know this because I’ve spent several years producing online content from my home and various satellite offices—although I have. I know this because I spent nearly four years working, as needed, in various titular capacities for the Long Island Press from 2002-2006. I know this because for the better part of half a decade, I had the time of my life—and some truly harrowing times—determining what qualifies as news and how to best and most respectfully contextualize it for a widely diverse readership.
During those four years, I learned things no one ever taught me in school, as well as lessons I simply never absorbed without practical application. I became a quick study in AP style, came to appreciate the art of a good editorial “kicker” (i.e. closing sentiment), saw first-hand the legal and ethical implications of diligent reporting, and experienced how ideas incubate with the help of collective intellects and perspectives before uneasily maturing into readiness for print. I came to appreciate that a single typo can undercut your entire message, and that long nights of confrontation and camaraderie are what define a newspaper’s identity and a journalist’s mettle.
I’m still in touch with nearly every fellow Press staffer I ever shared masthead space with. We all went through something together. Moreover, we created a collective voice that keeps us inexorably bonded like a blood oath. That sounds dramatic, but it’s something that can only be described in fraternal terms. I miss it every day. I miss the names, faces, opinions, strengths and weaknesses of all my ex-colleagues. I miss the Press audience and am grateful to them every day for even considering glancing at whatever fell out of my head onto those pages. I miss being in the trenches, rallying the troops and recuperating as a group from what could be very challenging, emotional work.
Thank you Robbie, Jed, Chris, Mike and Mike, Tim, Brendan, Annie, Dave, Josh, Edith, Bill, Michelle, Lauren and Lauren, Elizabeth, Bev, Felice, Keith, Jon, Ryan, Dave, Sandy, Christina, April, Jaclyn, Sharon and any other superstar interns, and anyone else from publisher to head of payroll who were part of my unrepeatable journey at the Press. And thank you to Long Island. And most of all, thank you to my dad, Walter Margolies, who spotted an opening more than 12 years ago for an intern at the then-Island Ear, which transformed into the New Island Ear soon after and, ultimately, launched as Long Island Press in January 2003. And if I ever happened to publish an article or aside that caught your eye and contributed to your week in a positive way, it was my absolute privilege and pleasure.
Happy anniversary, LIP!