By Nicole Garrison
I still have the sheet of paper Dave Orrick and I used to keep track of the web of companies and people involved in the Ramsey Town Center scandal. We called it “the map.”
With each phone call we made on the story, a new player or tidbit of information would surface and we’d add it to “the map.” He sat on one side of the block-long Pioneer Press newsroom and I sat on the other. We’d run across the newsroom with that map in hand multiple times a day to share with each other what we had learned. We were connecting many, many dots. It took months to see the pattern, but in the end, we published a three-part series that uncovered what led to the failed real estate project’s demise. It was exciting, exhausting and rewarding all at the same time.
I truly loved what I did. I loved the people I worked with and so many remain good friends still to this day. As our editor-in-chief at the time, Thom Fladung, would always say, “We did good journalism.” Yeah, we did.
But the buyouts got to be too much. With each new round of cuts, my spirits sank. Everyone’s did. The veterans I hoped to learn from were leaving. The bustling newsroom I first walked into was starting to look more and more like a ghost town.
Then there were the hours. I was the banking reporter during the financial services crisis of 2008-09. I was committed to telling our readers what they needed to know. That meant I woke up early and stumbled down to my home office to listen to bank earnings so I could file a quick web story before I drove in for the day. By the time I would arrive, some new crisis had emerged – the freeze on auction rate securities, collapse of Bear Stearns or the Reserve Asset Fund breaking the buck.
I stayed late into the night to cover these important stories. And I loved it.
But I loved my two-year old son more. I regularly missed dinners with him, and after a while I was missing bedtimes. I knew I needed to give up the career I loved, the one that I knew I wanted since I was 10 years old, so I could be the mom I wanted to be. The mom my little guy deserved.
So I defected to the “dark side.” Today, I run corporate communications for the U.S. brokerage arm of RBC, one of the largest financial services companies in the world. The skills I developed as a journalist – writing, critical thinking, the ability to tell a story – have helped me immensely in my new career.
What’s interesting to me is how much more valuable those skills have become in the social and digital age where content is king and the organizations that are best able to tell their stories are the ones that thrive!
I am often asked if I miss journalism. I do. I would never trade those years in a newsroom, especially because they led me to where I am today.
Nicole Garrison is now director of communications for RBC Wealth Management-U.S.