Where were you in 2008?

January 17, 2019

2008 is an easy year for me to remember clearly. It’s the year I left my first and only daily newspaper.

I didn’t leave because of the tidal waves of cultural, technological and economic changes that were just about to hit journalism. I left because I was a new mom.

The St. Joseph (Missouri) News-Press did everything I asked in mid-2007 after I had my first child. I went part-time. I worked a few days from home.

And I was just starting to figure out how to be a reporter and a mom when my husband found a job in a city across the state where my mom lived. It was a pay cut for him and a big unknown for me. But we’d be near family (and she had a finished basement).

Hare’s son in St. Louis in 2008.

I soon found a great job (again, part-time and remote) at the St. Louis Beacon. In 2010, I had my second child. In 2012, my kids and I followed my husband to Florida for a year-long assignment. We loved living here and decided to stay.

In 2013, I got a job as a media reporter at Poynter. By 2017, I was doing something I’d never imagined — covering the very thing I started in and missed the most: local news. And things came full circle for me in 2018, when I starting working with the Tampa Bay Times on a local obituary project.

A lot of big things happened to our industry in the past 10 years. And starting today, we’re exploring them in a project that launches this morning.

For me, 2008 to 2018 was the decade that I learned how to be a mom and a journalist. My kids are 11 and 8 now, so this was an era of diapers and daycare, naps and nights working after everyone was asleep — and the constant calculation that always boils down to one big question: What will I miss when I’m here and when I’m not?

Speaking to 15 current and former journalists, including nine who work in local, about the past decade helped remind me to stop and look at the big picture of what’s changed and what hasn’t.

What have the past 10 years been like for you? You can participate in this project by filling out this form. We’ll collect answers and share them soon.

In that time, I’ve worked for terrific editors, both men and women, who let me be a journalist and a mom and trusted me to figure out the details.

And in that time, while the way people consume news has completely transformed, the fundamentals of how many of us do our work haven’t radically changed. I spoke with Columbia Journalism School’s Michael Schudson, and he made this point well.

We have more investment now in fact-checking and investigative journalism. There are more platforms to reach people on. But if you compare the Hollywood version of the 1971 Washington Post in “The Post” to the Hollywood version of The Boston Globe in 2001, “They’re doing the same thing,” Schudson said. “They’re following leads, they’re interviewing people, they’re button-holing people, they’re going through records where they can … In the end, there are only so many ways to do original reporting.”

I’ve found that again and again in covering local news. And with all that has changed in the past decade, including watching my babies become big kids, I’m grateful for that.

Oh, and a tip for any future reporter/parents out there: If you get the chance to do career day, say yes. “I get to talk to strangers for a living” plays really well with the elementary school demographic.

This piece originally appeared in Local Edition, our newsletter following the digital transformation of local news. Want to be part of the conversation? You can sign up here.