There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. I’ve got a new job! Well, I’ve been there since August, so it’s more of a new-ish job.
I’m the web editor for The Chicago Reporter. It’s an investigative magazine in Chicago that focuses on race and poverty. The gig is a great fit for me because issues concerning brown folks and poor folks have always been nearest and dearest to my heart.
The Reporter has a storied history. It’s been around for 40 years and has won several awards for its hard-hitting exposés. One of its biggest investigations focused on mortgage lender Countrywide and its unfair lending practices to minorities. It led to an $8.7 billion national settlement in 2008, allowing up to 400,000 homeowners to modify their loan terms.
Four-hundred-thousand people. That’s a lot. I got into this business to help change my little corner of the world and for a news organization to be able to make a real and sustained impact to 400,000 people is much better than any journalism award, even the Pulitzer Prize. Now, I didn’t have jack to do with the Countrywide investigation, but I mention it to give you a look at the brains and dedication behind The Chicago Reporter.
I enjoy my co-workers. The bloggers, reporters and photographers are talented and altruistic. They’re the ones who are out there on the streets talking to people, getting them to open up about their personal struggles and seeing how those struggles are tied to broken institutions. It’s a pleasure to work with their copy and help spread the stories across the blogosphere. Also, I probably shouldn’t write this, but the staff is weirdly nice. After my first week, I asked the woman who hired me what was in the Kool-aid because the people were crazy nice and it was genuine.
The job also a good fit for my personal life, as it’s part-time and I don’t have to go into the office. I do venture downtown every so often because I feel more effective in the planning meetings if I’m physically at the table. Not to mention I’ve got awesome childcare, so it works.
We all know motherhood is a balancing act, and I believe that the best situation for me is one that is part time. I can spend time in my yoga pants with Playdoh under my fingernails and nuzzling chubby cheeks and other days I can slap on some slacks and wedge boots and hop on a train to head to a meeting.
After I left The Associated Press, part of me worried about “just” being a stay-at-home mom (no disrespect intended.) I wanted to be with my kids, but frankly not all of the time. As I’ve said before, I’m a better mom when I have time for me. No kids, no spouse. All me. Also, my identity has for so long been desperately woven into my job that it’s a transition of thought. I’m not just Melanie Coffee the journalist, I’m also Logan and Ethan’s mom. For some that’s a seamless transition, for me, it’s nothing less than shock and awe.
So that’s my big news, and it’s a big reason why I haven’t been blogging as much, but I’m working on changing that too. I suppose that’s the next scene of this Balancing Act.