Economy, New Mexico Compass, Opinion

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 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 Responses to “Opinion: Broke, But Hardly Broken”

  1. There is a great new year ahead for you, and the Compass, I have no doubt. Stay the course.

    Posted by Brad Hall | December 25, 2012, 1:42 am
  2. 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.

    Posted by William L. Hoffman | December 26, 2012, 3:27 am
  3. Linked to your site by my son, Mike Smith. What, exactly, is your new journalism project-The Compass-all about?

    Posted by Farrell M. Smith | December 26, 2012, 9:22 pm
  4. As a former board member of The Friends of the Albuquerque Tribune, I wish you well.

    Posted by Ron | December 28, 2012, 2:38 am
  5. As a former board member of The Friends of the Albuquerque Tribune, I wish you all the best.

    Posted by madmarrtian | December 28, 2012, 2:39 am


  1. Pingback: Morning Word, 12-27-12 | New Mexico TelegramDecember 27, 2012  

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