Going for It: Rapid Reinvention

Can a print journalist reinvent herself?

Let me just say right up front: I did not volunteer to reinvent myself. I was drafted.

I wasn't interested in being another me; I was cool with the me that I was. I was a reporter for  The Washington Post, one of the most respected newspapers in the world. To add icing to my cake, I was also J's wife, Z's mom, a sister and a friend. Life was good.

Then, things changed. The economy went south. The omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Internet provided the opportunity for people to read newspapers for free. The focus in newspaper executive suites turned to online readers. The newspaper industry had to adjust to survive and so did reporters, we staffers were told.

So, this is how I'm adjusting. After 20 years as a print reporter, I am now blogging and writing online about success, which is the ultimate irony for anyone who has been working in a newsroom lately. My new job is the "reinvention" in the title of this blog. The "rapid" is the fact that this whole thing needs to show signs of life in the Internet universe pretty soon so that I can keep this job and not have to reinvent myself again, somewhere else.
I feel blessed to have the opportunity, though this is unfamiliar territory. I didn't really embrace the blogging thing until now. I still prefer telephone calls to e-mails, and I know that the BlackBerry I carry for work is punishment for something bad I did to someone once.

Before reinvention, I felt confident that I could always get my story. Now, I feel like I'm walking on the San Andreas fault during a minor earthquake; the land is shifting under me, I've been able to keep my footing. At least so far.

But I'm trying to be positive. Instead of rolling through my calm and happy little world, I have been presented with a challenge. Now I'm hanging with the big ballers and shot callers, talking to folks like Dr. Ben Carson, the world-famous neurosurgeon. No more shirkers will appear beneath my byline. No more interviews at McDonald's for me; meet me at the Ritz.  (Though I am still trying to figure out how I'm going to do caviar lunches on my cheeseburger expense allowance.)

How are you dealing with your reinvention? I'd love to hear from you. Let's make this blog a daily "Reinvention Convention" for those of us who are in the midst of overwhelming professional change. Whether you joined the reinvention ranks because your job changed or you were fired; you were bought out or downsized; you are looking for your first job after college or re-entering the rat race; you retired or need a job after recently moving into the area, let's link up. Unemployed or former newspaper reporters and editors are welcome, too.

We'll be a support system and information network for each other. We'll gripe and moan some, but we'll also encourage each other as we move forward.

And be comforted. Your job may be gone, but you'll have me, blogging two or three times a day, in this very spot. Read them. Please. Respond to them. Please. Call all your friends and get them to do the same.
I'll also be tweeting on Twitter, friending on `Facebook and hoping that you Digg me.

People are watching to see how I do. I can't afford to fail. I have a son heading to college in a few years.

Yours in reinvention,



Avis Thomas-Lester

 |  November 1, 2009; 2:30 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Next: Brett Favre--Reinvention Hero


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so you left the Washington Post. And now you're back blogging for the Washington Post. Same employer, different job. Complete with Washington Post support and promotion of the blog. How is that reinvention? more like "continuation."

Posted by: knitgrl | November 5, 2009 1:57 PM
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Reinventing yourself means being willing to be a beginner again, learn, make mistakes and feel foolish on occasion. It's humbling.

I'm also a newspaper refugee. My current gig is executive coaching, with some communication work thrown in. I also blog, about great and not-so-great workplace practices. www.zumo-consulting.com/workplacehope

Fortunately, I have 20 years of rich newsroom material to draw on. So, in that sense, I'm not a beginner.

Good luck, Avis.

Posted by: monicalmoses | November 3, 2009 3:30 PM
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Dear Avis:

Welcome to the world of blogging. As a veteran writer and editor myself, with 25 years in the traditional business, I'm finding blogging a challenge as well. Some days it feels as if you're writing in a vacuum, for yourself. I'm finding that while people might read, they're not commenting much. But so it goes. I felt the need to reinvent myself as the business undergoes drastic change. What the end result will be, I don't know. But it sure does not beat writing a full-length story for print. Good luck.

Posted by: davesmom | November 3, 2009 12:27 PM
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Hasn't it been a little more than 20 years?

Posted by: coolbreeze3 | November 3, 2009 11:56 AM
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And what's your Twitter account?

Posted by: smallgoofydog | November 3, 2009 11:15 AM
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so what's your hashtag?

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | November 3, 2009 9:20 AM
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