People With Passion: Alden Loury

People With Passion: Alden Loury

A People With Passion series

Chicago journalism

September 15, 2011: Alden Loury, Chicago Reporter

In the ninth installment of Jack M Silverstein's Chicago journalism People With Passion series, Chicago Reporter publisher Alden Loury reminisces about his love of the newsroom.

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There is something – ‘magical’ is probably a little dramatic – but there’s a buzz that flows through a newsroom. There’s an energy there. There’s a pace. The News-Gazette newsroom, it was big. You had a lot of activity. In my mind, that’s the way journalism should be performed. Even if you’ve got people doing different things, I think those folks should all be in the same space. It’s almost like there’s something in the air, and everybody’s got to breathe that stuff in.

In that newsroom we had these short partitions. When you sat at your desk, you were kind of in your own space, but there was a reporter literally right next to you. Then there was a partition and on the other side there were two more desks. You had this camaraderie with these folks. You could easily look up and talk to people in another department. There were a lot of conversations that happened that way. The composition room was not far off, the editors were not far off, and a lot of those conversations, instead of walking, would happen from 30 to 40 feet away. “Hey, I got this story coming in, but I’ve got another piece, I’ve got a meeting I’ve got to go to tonight.” Or, you know, “How much room do I have on this?” All of these conversations about various aspects of what we were doing. They were all happening at the same time. It was just sort of… (pause) cool.

Our newsroom here, we’ve tried to create that. The reporters are compartmentalized to some degree, and they have some interchange. We have to get up and go there or they get up and come here to talk to the editors. And then the Catalyst is right there. But we’re still kind of segmented.

Do you miss not being able to kind of, you know, “Hey!”

I do. I was there for three years, and if I was going to design a newsroom, I would design it like that. People are there and they’re right across the desk from you, or they’re right over the partition from you. That’s what I would say about newsrooms.

There’s this communal aspect to reporting and editing and writing. When the newsroom was quiet, in some ways it was harder to write. It was more natural to feel that there was, not chaos necessarily, but that there was activity. That got your juices flowing to think of that lead that was escaping you, or to help you fish through that quote. Or if you had a quick question here, you know, How do you spell so-and-so’s name again? Or something like that. Yeah. I miss that.

Jack M Silverstein is an oral historian working in Chicago. His non-fiction novella Our President about Barack Obama's inauguration is available at Amazon. Say hey on Twitter @ReadJack.

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Enjoy this interview? Click here for a longer version, as Alden discusses his time as a "score-taker" at Champaign's News-Gazette, his passion for race and poverty issues, and why he enjoys being a publisher while missing being an editor.

Check back every Wednesday at Eye on Chi for more of Jack M Silverstein’s People with Passion interviews with Chicago journalists. Coming up next week: Christie Hefner, 20 year CEO of Playboy Enterprises.

PREVIOUSLY IN THE SERIES:

(NOTE: The dates below refer to the date of the interview. The order is the date they were run.)

August 17, 2011: Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune

September 13, 2011: Kimbriell Kelly, Chicago Reporter

August 26, 2011: Chuck Sudo, Chicagoist

August 17, 2011: Clayton Hauck, photographer

August 18, 2011: Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times

August 15, 2011: Mick Dumke, Chicago Reader

December 12, 2008: Alex Kotlowitz (re-edited August 15, 2011)

August 10, 2011: Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune

August 4, 2011: Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune

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