Multi-: More than one; many

Hello, Washington DC
Hello, Washington DC

It’s fair to say my week peaked by hump day after meeting Oh Land in New York on Monday and James Hamblin in Washington DC on Wednesday.

Jim (as if you haven’t heard of him) ditched his medical career in 2012 for a health editor position at His main focus is an online series called “If Our Bodies Could Talk”

He’s the first to point out his work isn’t conventional journalism; if it can be classed as journalism at all.

While in town I also stopped by National Geographic, where I met a bunch of people who specialise in everything from photography to cartography to data analysis to infographics to clay modelling (I’m not even kidding – I met Fernando Baptista).

I came away with renewed appreciation for the benefits of newsroom collaboration, especially in this time of transition.

Vox is an altogether different scene, but also with collaboration / integration at its core. Owing to reporters, designers, and developers working in the same newsroom, skills are shared organically as well as through in-house training. Plenty of company projects are conceived at lunchtime discussions, Yuri Victor told me.

Jessica Lima took a job at Buzzfeed for a similar sense of creative freedom: “At other organisations there are like 20 people stopping you from being creative.”

I’ve learnt that, perhaps owing to all this heightened collaboration, no one does just one job anymore.

“Journalists are being asked to do much more than ever before, with fewer resources,” Duy Linh Tu said in his book.

“These days, journalists are required to write, shoot photos, analyze data, create graphics, and produce video as regular functions of their jobs.”

This was clearly on show at GeoJourNews, where each presenter boasted a range of abilities relating to half a dozen professions.

Michael Keller is a perfect (if rare) example. The guy does everything: Reports, designs, and programs interactive projects.

Another journalist I met in New York, Justin Silverman, is both a “senior feature writer” and “video producer”.

And Jim, well, Jim is a doctor who writes articles and hosts comedic videos.

What even is journalism.

Videojournalism, the subway, and bare bottoms: Just another day in NY

I didn’t take even one photo on Wednesday, because I was filming.

This meant lugging a video camera around all day. Oh, and a tripod.

(I’ve got a whole new appreciation for video journalists.)

The story I was shooting was waaaay out in Brooklyn, and coming from Upper West Side it took more than an hour each way on the subway. But that was okay, because I kind of like the subway. This trip involved two line changes – that’s positively intrepid.

I saw women applying make up, parents with babies strapped to their front, there was even a service dog on board.

I’ve already mentioned I’ve found Americans to be very polite. Part of that involves respecting others’ privacy.

Even when two strangers are pressed together in a confined space such as a subway carriage, neither of them will say anything.

In the same situation in New Zealand, without doubt, there’d be some kind of conversation.

As a tourist in New York I find myself craving interaction.

The poor doorman has endured my chit-chat most evenings.

It’s a fine balance; being friendly towards someone without bothering them.

If the subway was your daily commute, if a packed cafe was your daily coffee, if jogging around Central Park was your daily workout, I’m sure you’d quickly learn how to ignore people for sanity’s sake.

There are nine levels in this apartment building… Imagine if everyone said hello to the doorman. He’d be hoarse by the end of his shift.

When I remarked to a local how everyone was so polite, she said: “You haven’t been to a sample sale.”

I’d heard of sample sales, and how they turn proper ladies into bargain-hunting she-devils. A few days later I spotted one at some designer store I’d never heard of; it was too tempting to pass by.

The place was far from packed – scrapping didn’t feature.

I grabbed a few items, and headed towards the changing rooms.

The assistant lifted a curtain, and I found myself in a small room with between 15 and 20 near-naked women.

Don’t get the wrong idea – I’m no prude. I’m all for #FreeingTheNipple and wearing pajamas in common areas of the flat.

But this wasn’t high-school swimming class, where girls wrap a towel around their waist before pulling down their skirt.

This was, well, this was…

I guess one of the allures of living in a city of 8.4 million people is that, unless you’re Taylor Swift, chances are, your bare bottom, proudly on display in the sample sale changing room, means nothing to anyone.

When I finally returned to Columbia to edit my footage, the computer lab was locked. Dammit. Exhausted, I let myself collapse against the wall, my bags sliding off my shoulders.

Then: A strange sound, like a click.

Then: A strange smell, like disinfectant.

I pulled back from the wall.

Evidently, I’d rested my head immediately below an automatic foam hand sanitiser dispenser.

I had alcohol soap in my hair, and down my back.

There would be no chit-chat with the doorman tonight.

Moral of the story: It’s not always appropriate to be friendly in New York.