In which a link is made between learning to surf, the end of Newscorp regional print newspapers and the uncertain future
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!
That’s one OMG for each time I stood up.
For several seconds. On a piece of foam so wide and stable Granny and her walker could get up on it.
On waves that broke two minutes before and had dissipated to small tongues of foamy wash.
On my sixth surfing lesson.
But that’s not the point. I STOOD UP.
It was a long journey to get this far. I am notoriously unco-ordinated. I am 51. I had two lessons, which got me as far as getting on the board without getting washed straight off again, and then catching a wave and zooming into shore on my stomach.
Then coronavirus chased us inside for a few months and I regressed. But starting back again, I progressed to planking on the board on a wave, getting feet underneath shoulders, and, finally, gaining a vaguely vertical stance.
Every other lesson has been hard, but mostly fun. This time, though, conditions were pure crap. There were squalls on the horizon, the waves were going in every direction and I felt tired all over. I spent most of my time struggling to get the board to the waves, then being washed back in.
Tears threatened. That surprised me. I gave myself a firm mental uppercut, which was quickly followed by a wave face-slapping me so hard my cheeks stung.
And I ploughed back out to try again.
Until this happened.
What’s this got to do with journalism?
June 27 marked the final day of many print newspapers, as Newscorp closed down more than 100 regional mastheads.
I spent 20 years working on some of those newspapers in Central Queensland. And it has been 10 years since I sat down at a subs desk and spent a shift rearranging words, headlines and photos, and letting a few mistakes slip through.
If I knew then what I know now (cliche alert) I’d have been a much more confident journalist than I was in my early 20s. I would have been much less cowed by the male domination of some of the newsrooms. I wouldn’t have fled to the safety of the subs desk so soon.
I know a lot of my former colleagues have been dumped into a swirling ocean of uncertainty. Their jobs are gone, the board has been swept from under them. It’s a huge face-slap.
I know the feeling. It’s how I felt when I was steered out of the industry.
It gets better. New doors open. Life goes on, it’s just a different life.
The best advice I heard today, from my pretty cool surfing coach, just before I gained that erect position on the surfboard:
“Swing that mother-***ing back foot in front of you and look where you want to go.”
Pretty applicable to life, I reckon.
Vale The Morning Bulletin, Capricorn Coast Mirror, the Gladstone Observer.