Lost in Translation

DMN Sunday editor Thomas Huang says working at Dallas' Only Daily feels like this picture looks. Very deep stuff here, people.

I can't make heads or tails of this thing myself; sounds like Thomas T. Huang, the former Texas Living editor over at The Dallas Morning News, needs a good night's sleep, if nothing else. (I know I do, which may explain the question mark over my head.) Huang--who, it was announced this week, is taking over as assistant managing editor for the Sunday paper, since Mark Miller's going back to Newsweek--says as much in his column titled "Reflections in the Dark," which appeared today on the Poynter Institute's Web site as one of two stories tied to the 111 buyout-induced departures at Dallas' Only Daily. The essay, which is intented to describe what it's like to survive a major newspaper's major buyout, is subtitled, "Sleepless nights born of newsroom chaos bring clarity to one journalist's reflections on the journalism of discomfort" and includes paragraphs like these:

"In the dark hours, I watch movies. Sometimes, movies help me make sense of the fractured narrative I'm living. I turn to 'Lost in Translation,' the 2003 film starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The two lead characters, Bob and Charlotte, cross paths in Tokyo. Neither can sleep because of the time difference. Both feel lonely and out of place in the Japanese culture. Both are adrift in their lives. The younger Charlotte struggles for a sense of purpose. The older Bob, a movie star past his prime, has lost his way.

A romantic spark brings the two together. But they part ways knowing only the intimacy of friendship, and a fleeting one at that. Yet somehow their brief connection has changed their lives for the better. The connection has given them a focus, has propelled them out of their inertia.

In the newsroom chaos, we can lose our way. We can lose our sense of purpose.

'It's like a free fall,' one of my colleagues says. 'It's as if there are no rules.' The uncertainty, laced with anger and anxiety, disorients us. Fear can make us leave, and fear can make us stay.

How can we find our focus? How can we come to understand who we are, and what is important to us?"

Boy howdy. Discomfort? Yeah, we'll go with that. --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky