An important lesson I’ve learned over many years in journalism is that adapting to change is critical.

It can mean the difference between surviving and sinking.

Embracing change, no matter how difficult, has always proved beneficial to me. I have seen those who resist it fall by the wayside.

In 32 years, I’ve gone from using a tiny portable computer as a correspondent in the field, to now working with two desktop screens, one for writing stories and researching, and the other for email. I also have a laptop I probably don’t use nearly as much as I should.

With my first computer, I could see only three lines of copy at a time and had to plug the thing in to a socket to send stories to editors. Then, as a staffer, I used a big, heavy, desktop computer with an orange screen. It was an improvement but had its glitches, such as occasionally wiping out an entire story that was not retrievable.

We’ve evolved to using sophisticated, easy-to-use equipment and programs that make our jobs so much easier. I shake my head and chuckle when I think about my college journalism classes where we typed on clunky typewriters that required ribbon changes and professors edited our copy with a red pen.

Over the years, we’ve seen many changes in software. I’ve sat in many training sessions thinking, “How will I ever learn this?”

It seemed that, just when we learned a workable program, we were hit with another one and had to start all over again.

But each time we faced change — as intimidating as it seemed at the time — once we adapted, the job got easier.

For years we used cameras to shoot photos. Learning to use a cellphone to take photos from a scene and send them to the copy desk was challenging at first. I laugh when I recall my initial insecurities about that and about learning to use Facebook and Twitter.

A colleague of mine who was much more technologically savvy than I used to reassure me: “If you learn one operation a day, that’s progress.”

Which is all to say that practice makes perfect. She was right. The more we do something, the easier it gets.

Some people resist change. They stress, complain and wish things to stay the same. But I’ve learned that’s not productive, nor is it wise.

As this newspaper turns to digital-only on Mondays to avoid layoffs and continue producing content, I’ll embrace that change.

As a subscriber who loves getting my printed copy each day at home, I also have been reading the ePaper to see how difficult or easy it might be for readers of print only.

Reading the ePaper is easy. It’s a matter of typing in my email address and password and then scrolling through the pages. The larger the screen, the better the experience.

Admittedly, reading the ePaper on my phone is a little more difficult because the print is smaller, but using a desktop or laptop is a snap.

As much as I appreciate simpler times, I acknowledge that technology has benefited my life and work in innumerable ways. Not embracing it is tantamount to leaving myself in the dust.

I sympathize with loyal, older readers who do not have access to technology, but perhaps the change to digital-only Mondays presents an opportunity to learn something new and useful and spend time with young folk, to whom technology is second nature. They love to show us what they know.

And in the newsroom at least, they’re the greatest teachers.

 

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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