Working with Giants

TIME Magazine was the first news publication I read regularly. I’ve always admired it as quality journalism that also made complex domestic and international issues readily understandable. TIME Magazine is part of the reason I wanted to become involved in journalism in the first place. Now, I’m in the nation’s capitol working for that same publication. Needless to say, it’s a little overwhelming. But I think I’m starting to understand how to overcome the pressure and actively contribute to something I’ve always admired.

Right from the very start, I was given responsibilities that I believe have an impact on the publication. From sorting through Palin emails for the right facts (what would have happened if I missed a great quote!) to scanning through recent poll information for interesting correlations (what if I missed a really important correlation!), what I do at my desk at TIME is really contributing to the reporting. Sure, I’m also printing out articles and fetching information, and those are what I would call pass/fail assignments: either they’re done or they’re not. But with some of the more analytical work, the end product really is dependent on my ability to complete the task thoroughly and responsibly. I’m not going to say that the decisions I make are the end all, be all of the magazine. I’m not nearly that narcissistic. But I knowing that I have a responsibility to the magazine forces me to work even harder. And that makes me nervous.

I’m working with people who I know have been involved in this business for a long time, and I sometimes worry that I won’t be able to to contribute in a meaningful manner. I recently copy edited a story by Joe Klein, who’s one of my favorite writers at TIME and in the journalism business as a whole. And I really had the struggle past the dream-like euphoria wonder and get down to work. I was looking for flaws in a piece written by somebody who I really respect, and that’s a difficult task.

The fear of messing up and the admiration for my coworkers here are inextricably linked. I’m afraid of appearing inexperienced or insecure to people who are doing what I admire most: excelling at an extremely noble profession that I’ve always wanted to be a part of.

It’s difficult to work alongside my role models. Especially when they don’t seem to think it’s such a big deal. But I’m honored to be here (boy this is going to be embarrassing when they see this). I just hope my boy-like wonder isn’t going to impact the way I work here. I hope I can recognize that I’m a part of the team, and that I’m here because I am capable of the task. I’m starting to integrate, and it’s only been four days. I can only imagine what’s going to happen between now and the end of August.