The Digital Journalist
Moving To Central America
June 2004

by James Colburn

Whoa. Somebody must have spiked my drink a few weeks ago because it seems that I've been running around Washington telling everybody that I'm leaving Time Magazine. Come on guys, cut me some slack, it was a joke! Who in their right mind would leave one of the best jobs in the photojournalism business?



I guess the key phrase there is "in their right mind."

Counts me out.

I was at a dinner with my wife a while ago and she jokingly asked an old friend if he had any job openings. Turns out he did. It's a really great job. So when she asked if I'd be willing to move to Nebraska so that she could take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I swallowed hard and told her to take the job.

(Right now all the women are sighing and all the men are going, "What?")

It looked for a while like I was going to be freelancing in Omaha or, perhaps, learning new job-related phrases like, "Do you want fries with that?," and then a miracle happened. The Lincoln Journal-Star needed a photo editor. I applied, they accepted. I'm excited. Lincoln is 50 miles from Omaha (where the wife is going to work) but that 45-minute commute takes less time to do than the 11 miles from the suburbs into Washington, DC. What the hell, I'll get satellite radio. Book on tape. I can finally learn to whistle.

I've spent the past seven years as the Washington Photo Editor for Time and it 's been a hoot. I've worked with some of the smartest people in the world, both writers and photographers. There've been primaries, conventions, elections, scandals, disasters and even the coverage of some mundane stuff like the search for the human genome. I've had the opportunity to sit in on story conferences where items of worldwide import have been discussed and I've learned a few things about some famous people that I cannot, to this day, divulge. I now know who killed Jimmy Hoffa, the color of J. Edgar Hoover's favorite Sunday dress and that George W. Bush is, in fact, a Disney animatronic robot put in power by a cabal of Texas oil barons. And stuff I can't tell you would REALLY blow your mind.

I'm on the road now driving from DC to Nebraska with a stop in Toledo to see Larry and Dave at The Blade and take in a Mudhens game. I'll swing by the two places in Indiana named Colburn to get some Christmas card photos and then speed on to my new home. I'm a Husker now. A Cornhusker. I have to wear red on game days and learn to hate Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and everyone else in the Big 12 that isn't Nebraska. And if you think that it I've already "drunken the Kool-Aid" bear in mind that Kool-Aid was invented by a man from Nebraska and they have a three day Kool-Aid festival every year in his home town.

It's going to be very interesting.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer