(click for high-res, in focus version)
The newspaper I came to work for in Abu Dhabi has launched. Months of hard work from all parties involved (I was a mere interloper at three-and-a-half months’ service) have come to fruition. I do not think I can accurately describe how happy I am that the paper is finally out, how happy I am that there is now a tangible payoff for what I’ve been working on.
The newsroom was abuzz yesterday afternoon as we trooped in to get the show on the road. Everybody was taken with the sense that now was the time and yes, this was really going to happen. After weeks of dry runs — where we produced full editions but they did not go to print — we were itching to get things moving. This was not limited to us mere oiks in production, but shared by reporters, comment editors such as Rasheed and senior editors such as Colin.
Suited for the occasion, undoubtedly the biggest of my career so far, I entered the fray of text editing alongside my keyboard-wielding colleagues and we came out the other side largely intact. A little frayed, perhaps, and a little stretched, but nonetheless glowing and grinning at having played parts, however tiny, in helping The National make it to the streets of the United Arab Emirates. The main paper-builders, of course, include Martin Newland, the editor-in-chief, Hassan Fattah, the deputy editor, and the aforementioned Colin, the executive editor.
(Martin, as you might expect, spent the evening at the Emirates Palace Hotel at the gala launch of the newspaper. Colin and Hassan largely spent it on the newsroom floor [thanks for the pizzas, Hassan] keeping us on the straight and narrow, along with the production editor Rob McKenzie and his deputy David Green.)
I have only been in print rooms two or three times, but I do love the smell of ink. It hangs in the air as the presses hammer and thread raw newsprint and transform it into the collection of words and pictures you hold in your hands. As midnight came and went we headed to the press building in search of early editions. We did not find them, but the arts section was fully printed up while business and sport were coming off the machines at a rate of knots. Waves of people from other sections of the paper came and went, all seeking a touch of the magic that came with launching this newspaper. The news section suffered its delays but later that morning the first copies of The National made their ways onto newsstands in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere. We had arrived.
We have taken the first steps. We have come a long way from the temporary newsroom we inhabited until last week. Now we do it all over again every night. 😀