Today was my first one on the job, and enormous fun. I can recommend being editor as a way to stimulate the little grey cells - I blinked at around five o'clock and realised that the day had passed in a blur of emails, ad-hoc meetings, stories, questions and answers. Getting bored - not an option.
A pal from outside the company suggested that I blog about the reality of becoming an editor for the first time. Very tempting: it only happens at best once per lifetime, and the things I'm learning -- or at least being exposed to, in short order -- are an education and a half. The complexities of the job look extraordinarily different inside from out, and that's after one day inside when the out was being a journalist constantly working for years at a very detailed level with my own editors. Lord alone knows how it looks to people in the real world.
But blogging all that is not an option. We have to keep some secrets from each other, dear reader, or where's the mystery? After striking out all the commercial stuff, the personnel bits, the what-if discussions where we chew over ideas in unpublishable ways, the times I pop off to the loo to shoot up with crystal meth -- well, make a double espresso with our single most vital employee benefit, the free real coffee machine -- there'd be nothing left but my navel-gazing. Which would be dead dull.
There are moments to be shared. One of today's highlights was a quote collected during the construction of the story about the European Commission's ongoing programme of injecting a bit of sanity into mobile phone roaming charges. We called a number of operators to get their take on developments, mostly because it's just good journalism to get points of view from everyone in a story but a little bit because it's often a really good way to illustrate just how disconnected organisations can become from reality.
So take this, delivered by a professional on behalf of Vodafone: "We don't hear a great call from our customers for regulation or intervention for what is already a competitive market in terms of price, SMS prices have already been falling [and] there are plenty of other commodities in the world where prices are rising."
This is all undoubtedly true. I can't remember offhand the last time I suggested regulation to a telco which had just landed me with a very large bill for very little service. The price of SMSs has indeed been going down, in general, while the cost of oil, bread and eggs has been going up. But to imply that either was in some way an answer to the complaints of the European Commission - that mobile phone companies are grotesquely overcharging for roaming, with profit margins almost impossible to calculate without major developments in theoretical mathematics - is as farcical as a five year old caught raiding the biscuit jar excusing himself by saying Aunty Maude once gave a Hob-Nob to the vicar.
Vodafone doesn't agree. Either it truly believes that data transmission costs should be index-linked to the spot price of Brent sweet light crude, or it thinks that we'll believe whatever it says. Either option reflects badly on the relationship the company has with reality: lest Voda think I'm picking on it, it is far from alone.
But the sheer pleasure of having a lump of attributable inanity delivered, gift-wrapped and ready to serve, and to see it presented with all the trimmings to a waiting world -- ah, that's why it's worth doing the job.
That and the coffee. Oh, and the magic that the whole thing works.