January 24, 2020

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Utter clutter

Explore different stages of disarray through Free Press staffer desks

It’s nearing the end of January, which is the perfect time to start reassessing those New Year’s resolutions.

If one of yours was to get a little less cluttered, how’s it going? Have you purged? Have you started making piles of things to give away to charity? Have you considered getting started, only to get distracted with Netflix?

It’s OK – no judgment; we at the Free Press are no strangers to the art of hoarding and, as they say, those in glass newsrooms shouldn’t throw clutter.

Let’s be honest – journalists aren’t known for being the most organized, tidy group of people, and when your newspaper has been around for more than 100 years, the office is bound to accumulate an appalling amount of stuff – we’re talking newspapers from literally decades ago, archived photos and negatives, books, tools that we no longer use, posters from ad campaigns past, promo gifts from companies that no longer exist, CDs from all corners of the Earth... you name it, it’s probably here.

In our newsroom, we also have a wide variety of clutter-keepers at an individual level that range anywhere on the spectrum from minimal accumulation to, well, you’ll see. If large piles of unorganized stuff make you anxious, read no further.

No clutter

This desk is one that many in the newsroom look at with disdain: it’s clean, it’s tidy, and there’s actual counter space to use. There is a cup for pens and pencils, a tray for mail and notes and a neatly placed photograph of a loved one and a dog.

Disclaimer: This columnist doesn’t spend a lot of time in the office, so it’s much easier to keep her space in order. It also helps that she pushed her pile of CDs onto the new music reporter’s desk.

Organized clutter

Here we go one step further into the clutter wormhole. This reporter has a lot of stuff on his desk; however, it’s relatively neatly piled up, leaving a good chunk of open desk space to work on

This arts reporter receives a lot of promotional material for various things, and, despite minimal storage options, is able to keep things (mostly) in order. It’s still cluttered, but it’s not overwhelming – and it’s cluttered with cool stuff, which also helps.

Clutter that’s actually trash

This city reporter’s desk is unique in the type of clutter she accumulates. Yes, it’s mostly the usual papers, cords, writing utensils, personal effects and the like, but she also keeps food containers, napkins, tissues, beverage containers and other food-related items hanging around.

Each item’s not there for long (we’re not getting into health and safety territory), however it is replaced quickly with another item of food garbage.

Aspirational clutter

This arts editor receives a lot of CDs, books and other packages that pile up over the months to create towers of potential story ideas – some of which get done, and some of which remain as just an idea forever. But if there’s potential, the item sticks around – for better or worse.

As an editor, a huge amount of paper gets passed his way daily, which also contributes to the lack of desk space at any given time, and at this given time the amount of clutter-free space is zero.

Note: This editor began cleaning off his desk after being approached to be part of this story.

The king of clutter

This Free Press reporter’s desk is legendary in the newsroom purely due to the amount of papers that reside there – there are stacks as far as the eye can see.

The origin of the piles is unknown, but based on a selection of vintage On 7s he recently uncovered, he estimates the earliest pages to be from about 2009. Right now his desk is at low-tide after completing a specific end-of-year assignment, but it’s still a sight to behold – and also possibly a fire hazard.

Ctrl+F is a dose of local flavour from life in our city. Produced with care and character by @WinnipegNews, this online conversation is published Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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