Dallas Morning News

Early mornings

Working on a newsletter early in the morning.

A new schedule.

My workdays start at 4 a.m. now.

After a trip to the Keurig, the Chrome tabs start flying open — I am off checking analytics, various news sites, and a myriad of Slack channels to produce the morning roundup for The Dallas Morning News.

By 7:00 a.m., the news roundup is online and in people’s inboxes. Next comes a round of reader emails and social media exchanges before I head into the office.

I try to leave the office by 1 p.m., but afternoon meetings make this impossible on most days. And least once a week, a late meeting or evening technical issues blow my workday past the 14-hour mark.

This early-bird schedule is the culmination of months of work. When I first started at the newspaper, our newsletter program was fully automated. Now, we take the time to actually write and curate our top newsletters.

Gunter the chiweenie distracting me as I am attempting to get a Weekend Digest newsletter finished.

Gunter the chiweenie distracting me as I am attempting to get a Weekend Digest newsletter finished.

The best part of our new newsletter approach is the reader feedback, which has been overwhelmingly positive. Paid subscribers say that they like the news roundups as a starting-off point for our content. We have even picked up new subscriptions because people like the service.

There are some personal costs associated with this 4 a.m. schedule — I start deteriorating quickly at 8 p.m.

Also, attempts to “nap and go out” during the week never work, much to Michael’s amusement.

The most unexpected part of my new schedule is how quickly time passes now. Fridays arrive alarmingly fast, and anything that I don’t schedule doesn’t get done. (Like blogging.)

However, things could be worse. While I’m sipping coffee and fumbling with Chrome tabs from home at 4 a.m., some of my TV station colleagues are already in full makeup in front of a camera. Feeling groggy is one thing — being on display is another.

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