3/20/11

Coast-Hopped

This journal's last entry, dated August 4, was written from inside a Brooklyn apartment, to the clamor of the Hasidic Jews working in a warehouse across the street, after a day in Manhattan digging up muck for the journalist Wayne Barrett.

Wayne's no longer at the Village Voice, and I'm no longer in New York. He got the ax for earning more than what his alt-weekly overlords could afford, and I left the state because it was more than what my freelance gigs could afford.

After a brief stop back home, I landed on the opposite coast for another internship, this one at Mother Jones in San Francisco. Public transit into the city from my Oakland coop house isn't cheap—$6.60 a day, round-trip—but, thanks to a grant-funded stipend and my first roommate since freshman year of college, I've got the money to scrape by.

It's a world apart from Iowa out here sometimes, and not a place I predicted being a year ago while applying for the spot at the Voice from an Ames apartment, hardly knowing who Wayne really was.

As I explained it in a MoJo post, in an attempt at expressing what my J-school mentor called a Midwesterner's lack of confidence:
Last spring, the self-loathing writer in me was in full bloom. On the verge of turning 24, I still needed an internship for my undergrad degree. I wanted a taste of the national media scene but had never lived outside Iowa and could never muster up much confidence in my credentials.

The sportswriting internship at a dwindling Indiana paper that I was about to accept looked less appealing by the day. So, on a whim, I applied at the Voice in April. The next month, to my surprise, I was offered an interview. But I was working, and by the time I replied they had found someone else.

Then, a lucky week later, the spot opened back up, and before I knew it I was on the phone with [Wayne] himself.
Mother Jones copy editor Adam Weinstein, himself a former Wayne intern, described Wayne's influence as well as anyone:
But if you worked for Barrett and paid him a hefty sum each day for the privilege, you'd still be making out like a greasy politician on the deal. From Politico to Rolling Stone to here and here and here at MoJo and far beyond, hundreds of Wayneniks are out there, and we pretty much all feel the same way: His guidance humbled us and empowered us. It made us better reporters and people.

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