Economy / New Mexico Compass / Opinion

Broke, But Hardly Broken

By Marisa Demarco

—The holidays have been rough for me. Like so many Americans during the recession, I lost my job. And like so many Americans, I thrive on work, on being useful and productive.

My gig went down the tubes suddenly on Dec. 12, 2012, just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Though I maintain a healthy dollop of skepticism regarding the commercial side of the holidays, it feels bad not being able to afford much right now. That’s silly, because my friends and family don’t care at all about presents. Still, Christmas can be cruel for the unemployed.

Maybe like so many beloved holiday movie characters, I’m finally learning about what really matters. (Hint: It’s not material goods. It’s never material goods.)

Over the course of my decade in journalism, I’ve worked with many interns, writers and editors. All of the good ones are in this field because they love it. Frankly, there’s not another reason to do this work. The money sucks. The hours suck. Journalism can make you crazy. It might also rob you of your health and beauty.

But, if you’re a born storyteller, if your curiosity is never sated, if you want to shine light into the shadowy corridors where power dwells, this is the job for you.

When I left college, my head was full of the ideals and ethics of journalism. I bought it wholesale. I believed in the integrity of real journalists. I believed in being accountable to the reader. I believed in the firm separation of advertising and editorial, and not allowing money to influence content. Journalists are supposed to be truth-seekers.

I’d rather be broke and doing it right than allow the cynicism of corporate media to shade my ethics.

All of that matters. But it’s not quite a Christmas miracle.

Instead, that came in the form of all those great interns, writers and editors I was talking about. They signed up without hesitation to help launch this site. My inbox is full of their ideas and stories, which you’ll see at nmcompass.com in the coming weeks.

It’s hard to express the gratitude I feel for them without wandering into trite territory. I try to show my thanks by doing my best by their work as an editor. I’m already so proud of what we’ve posted to date. And when we launched the site on Dec. 21, I was astonished at the support we received from thrilled new readers.

On a personal note, I’m also grateful for Margaret Wright and Carolyn Carlson. This site is largely Wright’s idea, spurred into existence with the good guidance and mentorship of Carlson. Their enthusiasm and grit over the last couple of weeks propped me up. They are why New Mexico Compass became real.

Though my financial future is tenuous, I am rich in friends, colleagues and fellow inquirers. I’m nothing but lucky. 2013 yawns wide before us. We can hardly wait to fill it with good stories.

8 thoughts on “Broke, But Hardly Broken

  1. I left newspapering after 15 years at New Mexico dailies. When I left the Albuquerque Journal, columnist Jim Belshaw/Arnholz told me: You have two choices at the Journal: Give up and leave or give up and stay. I am a recovered journalist and an interactive member of the human race for 30 good years.

    • Many thanks to the Smith family! Short answer: Our first aim is to provide probing, accessible, relevant New Mexico and regional news. We’re also excited to serve as a hub and training ground for writers committed to work in the public interest. Our mission statement has a few more details: http://nmcompass.com/mission/.

  2. Pingback: Morning Word, 12-27-12 | New Mexico Telegram

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