Friday, January 18, 2008

MSN, Christmas, Bylines and Sally Field

Today I feel the way my stepdaughter looked on some years ago when she woke up Christmas morning and found a life-sized Barbie (as big as she was at the time) under the tree. With the Florida sun streaming through the front windows, she danced around the living room with it, giggling about how Santa has been able to find her in a house without a chimney in a place where it didn't snow.

That's how it felt this morning when I woke up and discovered MSN featured one of our stories for the first time -- a link right off of the main Money page. And if that wasn't enough to make my day, I discover more links to other stories inside. Ok, so I kind of knew something was going to happen. We've been pitching stories since shortly after we launched the Web site, a little more than a month ago. But ohmygawd, who knew it would be so cool? Yeah, yeah, 20 years as a veteran newspaper reporter and editor, and you'd think the excitement would be gone by now. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, if you will.

Nada, Nope, No way. Besides, I've only been doing this Internet startup gig for a few months. As someone who spent most of my career in traditional print media, I remember feeling this way the first time I saw my byline at The Lake Worth, Fla., Herald, where I began my career working for a crotchety old-fashioned newspaper editor named Deacon Rhodes. I spent my afternoons writing obituaries and community news that he changed without notice. And I didn't care because I was writing stories that people wanted to read.

What can I say? It feels like Christmas and my first byline and Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars. THEY LIKE US! THEY LIKE US! I e-mail the writers to share the good news. I call several friends and family members who can appreciate my excitement. Woohooo! A month and a half after we started, we did it! We're on a major news site. Then, after a half and hour or so, I come back down to earth and remember what Deacon Rhodes said to me on the last day of my internship -- the day he gave a straight-A student a 'B.' "Well, if I gave you an 'A,' you'd have nothing to work for.'

Oh yeah, we gotta do this again. UGH! Back to work.

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