The best, and worst, of having a journalist for a Valentine: ‘no one can do math’
When they worked together at the Washington bureau of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Margie Freivogel and Bill Freivogel had to hand their kids off to each other twice while on big stories.
"The first time, I brought the kids to George Washington Hospital to take over for Margie, who was covering the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan," Bill said in an e-mail. (Margie was my editor at the St. Louis Beacon.) "I gave her the kids and she gave me the notes. The second time was eight years later when we both covered Gephardt's presidential run. We traded the kids at Dulles airport as I came back from Iowa and she went off to New Hampshire."
What's the best thing about having a journalist for a Valentine? The worst? I asked lots of journalist couples that question on Thursday. Here are their answers. (I realized while writing this that all of my editors have been part of a couple. If you're one-half of a journalist couple and want to answer, too, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be updating all day.)
Jessanne Collins, editor-in-chief, Mental Floss, and Joe Pompeo, senior reporter, Capital New York
Jessanne: Best -- I always have somebody to talk to about work.
Worst -- We ALWAYS talk about work!
Joe: Best -- Journalists tend to be big drinkers.
Worst -- Journalists tend to drink too much.
Nate Taylor, sports reporter, The New York Times, and Holly Taylor, associate art director at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Nate: I think the best thing is I'm able to get creative in showing my wife, Holly, how much I love her. She likes flowers, but she really appreciates seeing my words on paper, so I always try to share with her how important she is to me. It's always fun to see what I wrote her a few years ago compared to what I want to say to her in the current year. I was also able to buy her some excellent Godiva chocolate this year before taking my flight to Texas to work on two feature stories. So Valentine's Day came early for her this year.
The worst part is just not being there on the day. But we schedule around it. I try to surprise her, but it is always strange to see people in a loving mode when you know you're wife is hundreds of miles away.
Holly: Best -- The way he recounts our love story to me. Each time there's new reflections, even though it's the same storyline.
Worst -- Our plans or date nights sometimes have to change on a whim if news breaks.
Preston Rudie, reporter, WTSP TV, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., and Veronica Cintron, anchor/reporter, Bay News 9
Preston: Best -- That’s easy… the card. As a journalist Veronica has a way of expressing her thoughts on paper and more than anything, reading her Valentine’s Day card is the highlight of my day. It leaves me with the most wonderful feeling.
Worst -- Our schedules. Veronica works nights and I work during the day so we don’t get to see much of each other when Valentine’s Day falls during the week like this year. So our romantic night out will be Saturday. But trust me, that’s a small price to pay after we did long distance (MA to FL) for 5-years. After that I can honestly say distance does make the heart grow fonder. I also think the years spent apart made us value and appreciate each other even more.
Veronica: Best -- I love that he “gets it”. As a journalist, he understands when I can’t chat because I’m busy with breaking news. He understands the deadlines…the long hours, the stress. Preston totally gets where I’m coming from because he’s been there so he’s very supportive. It’s comforting.
Worst -- Our schedules. Preston works days and I work nights. That means we don’t have the luxury of having “date nights” during the week, such as a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day. Instead, I get creative.
Caitlin Kelly, freelance writer and non-fiction author, and Jose R. Lopez, photo editor, The New York Times (Both were snowed in on Thursday, Kelly wrote: "he claimed the bedroom and cellphone -- I've got the dining table and landline.")
Caitlin: Best -- When they're emailing at 3 a.m. I know it's a convo with a staffer in Beijing or assigning a freelancer in Mumbai -- not some chippy they're stepping out with. (Becs I can see the story/photo in the paper, too.) Also, we swear a lot.
Linda Lockhart, outreach specialist for St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon, and Steve Korris, freelance journalist
Linda: Best -- They understand that you can't always share your time together, sacrifices have to be made because of the job and they understand that, they get that.
Worst -- I guess that's also the worst part.
Steve: The best part is teaching each other the meaning of words. In the middle of a conversation, one of us will say, yes, but what does that mean? And then we'll run and get the dictionary and look it up together.
The worst part is that when we talk about news, what seems like good news to one of us is bad news to the other. Current events become part of the household routine.
Melissa Davlin, co-host, Idaho Public Television, and Nate Poppino, web/breaking news editor, Idaho Statesman
Melissa: At this point in our relationship, we know that breaking news can sometimes trump our plans. We've halted dates to cover house fires and shootings. We schedule daycare pick-ups around each others' deadlines, and the baby is welcome at each of our newsrooms when both of us are busy. Thank goodness for our gracious bosses.
Our chaotic work routines suck, but I can't imagine being married to someone who isn't a journalist. Who else would be so understanding when you have to leave dinner on the table and rush to a wildfire an hour away? And our endless discussions of water policy and local elections would drive any other person straight to the nearest divorce lawyer's office.
Dave Jamieson, labor reporter, the Huffington Post, and Jenny Rogers, assistant managing editor, Washington City Paper
Dave: Best -- Being with someone who understands your work and wants to hear all about it after a long day.
Worst -- Being with someone who understands your work and wants to hear all about it after a long day.
Jenny: Best -- He catches all my typos
Worst -- He catches all my typos
Rebecca Catalanello, reporter, The Times-Picayune, and Steve Myers, editor, The Lens
Rebecca: The best -- I can count on him for a good edit.
The worst -- Also, see above.
Steve: The best thing is you can always talk to someone who understands your work and why you do it.
The worst: See above.
Ewa Beaujon, freelance researcher and translator, and Andrew Beaujon, news editor, Poynter.org
Ewa: The best thing is we never run out of things to talk about! Some parents joke about going out without the kids and not talking about anything but the kids. In our case, there's always some crazy story one of us read, what's buzzing on Twitter, the new Internet meme ("What Does the Fox Say?" was a recent highlight) or just some fascinating study we read that day that we can entertain each other with.
The absolute worst thing about my valentine being a journalist is that we often have competing deadlines. Both being tied to our laptops and phones, barely able to concentrate on anything else, including our kids, unable to get dinner on the table at a decent time, and being stressed out in tandem is the absolute pits.
Andrew: Whatever she says is correct.
Greg Kozol, assistant city editor, St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, and Jessica DeHaven, lifestyles editor, St. Joseph News-Press
Greg: A journalist tends to be a jack of all trades, master of none, so I feel like we can have an interesting conversation about anything: from Quantitative Easing to Oscar movies. It's also fun watching TV with a print journalist because we can can be so biting in our observations.
The worst thing is the fear that both of us could be out of a job at the same time, which would be difficult economically. When I covered business, I encountered a lot of husbands and wives who worked at factories and were worried about being unemployed at the same time. Now, I understand what they were going through.
Jess: The best thing is journalists are interested in things around them and the world, so that makes them interesting. And of course there's the understanding that comes from someone who does the same thing for a living -- they get the journalism jokes ironies and frustrations.
The worst thing is that we tend to get a bit caught up in the job so it can be difficult pulling away when it's time for a personal life. To some degree, you never quite get away from the job. And then there's the problem that no one can do math.
Margie Freivogel, editor, St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon, and Bill Freivogel, director, School of Journalism, Southern Illinois University
Margie: Best -- Having someone to talk to who actually understands the serial obsessions, strange characters and weird hours that are signature elements of a journalist's life.
Worst -- Trying to create a normal family life while accommodating the serial obsessions, strange characters and weird hours of your spouse's life as a journalist.
Case in point: While we were both part of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Washington bureau, we invited to dinner the Japanese parents of our son's high school friend. As it happened, I had to leave early that evening to cover an unexpected presidential press conference. Bill got home late because he was finishing a story that couldn't wait. The guests ate dinner as we raced to and fro, never sitting down at the same time. How each of us wished the other could just put some limits on work's unpredictable intrusions into life outside the office.
Bill: Best -- I wouldn't have become a journalist if Margie hadn't already been my Valentine. I would go to pick her up at the Stanford Daily to get pizza and beer and the other Daily editors finally put me to work editing copy.
Worst: Both of us working into the wee hours finishing stories on the old-style portable computers of the 1980s while the babies slept - or didn't sleep - upstairs.
Howard Finberg, director of training partnerships and alliances, Poynter, and Kate Finberg, former journalist
Howard: Best thing about being a journalism couple – you never needed to explain why you worked nights nor what happens when a big story breaks.
The worst thing about being a journalism couple on Valentine’s Day, someone is always working nights or there’s a big story.
Bill Reiter, Fox Sports columnist, and Laurie Mansfield, staff, Fox Sports 1
Bill: Best -- There's a special bond in sharing the second-most important part of your life after family: the understanding and meaning only journalists have for a profession that at its core works in service to and because of the First Amendment.
Worst -- All time downsides of the job (you journalists know what they are by heart) come in double.
I am not married to a journalist (my husband works in construction) but Andrew Beaujon thought it only fair that I ask my husband this question.
Kristen Hare, reporter, Poynter.org, and Jailall Jairam, not a journalist
Jailall: Best -- She asks a lot of questions.
Worst -- The questions keep coming.
Kimberly Barbour, reporter, WRCB-TV, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Matt Barbour, reporter, WRCB-TV
Matt: Best -- It's so nice being able to have someone who relates to the stresses of this field. We've all tried to explain our crazy days to family and friends. But they just don't "get it."
Worst -- Our schedules. We've managed to work at the same stations over the years (somehow!) But more often than not our schedules don't line up. Also, people often get confused on if we're husband and wife or brother and sister?
Kimberly: Best -- We understand each other. We can share our stresses and laughs about things that happen in the field and the other one always gets it. We also share story ideas and contacts. We're always on each other's team.
Worst -- The schedules are tough, but we try to make the most of our time together!
Sally Ann Shurmur, community news editor, Casper (Wy) Star-Tribune, and Owen A. Frank III, former backshop guy, Casper Star-Tribune
Owen: Best -- The gossip.
Worst -- Getting outted (he means their relationship. Now.)
Sally Ann: Best -- Having someone who is as interested in the news as I am.
Worst -- A 24/7 proofreader.
Rachel Karas, education reporter, The Frederick (County, Maryland,) News-Post, and Zach Cohen, metro intern, The Washington Post
Zach: Best — Understands when we have to change plans or reschedule. Knows when I’m stressed and why, and then helps me calm down. Edits my copy. Understands when I need to be on my phone when news updates happen. We send each other news stories/tips relevant to our beats/interests.
Even better — Tells me to get off the damn phone once in a while.
Worst — We live/work an hour away from each other, and we both sometimes work weekends. Makes it hard to spend time together.