Real book author for a minute
Eventually my boyfriend moved to San Francisco and I followed him there on a journalism visa. The plan was to stay only six months, but we fell in love with San Francisco and California. I was writing for the Swedish media and sending home stories about the happy dot.com craze of the late 90s in the Bay Area. I shared an office with a gang of entrepreneurs in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood and went to extravagant startup parties.
After a while, an old colleague from Sweden asked me if I wanted to co-write a book about startups in San Francisco and Sweden. I happily said yes, I told myself that if I could write a children’s book, I could write an adult book. I interviewed and met so many amazing people in the Bay Area who wrote this book; so much fun and so much work. (If anyone is wondering, I would say giving birth is easier than writing a book.)
We named the book “Guldrush” (“Gold Rush” in Swedish), which became the perfect name two years later when it all came crashing down in the 2001 internet industry crash.
As any immigrant to the United States can tell you, getting a green card is a dream come true.
As an expert, all these interviews I had done in the early days of the internet and my translated children’s book qualified me for a green card for extraordinary ability much to my surprise. This category of the green card is mainly awarded to academics or ballerinas (and Melania Trump). But also, it turns out, to ordinary people like me.
We went back to Sweden for a bit, got married and had kids, but that green card and our love of California kept us coming back. It still amazes me that if I hadn’t done all these interviews or written these books, our lives might have taken a different turn.
In 2008, I got a job at SFGate, the site of the San Francisco Chronicle, then with 12 million unique users (22 million users when I left seven years later).
As Senior Producer for the Online Team, I worked with the newsroom, developers, and designers to ensure the website reached as many people as possible with engaging content and functionality. It was my first time working with the editorial staff of a traditional newspaper and I loved it.
We have had layoffs and changes; I got more responsibilities and even was in charge of the esports section for a while, which felt weird. I didn’t know much about baseball or football, two non-Swedish sports. I learned tons when we worked on titles and content to get the most search traffic during the memorable 2010 World Series when the Giants won for the first time since 1954. No one who was there will ever forget absolute godsend in San Francisco during the victory parade.
I’ve spent the past 14 years working in various online content roles as a producer, manager and director, first for SFGate/SF Chronicle and then for Sonoma Media Investments, the parent company of The Press Democrat.
Through fires, floods, storms, elections, tragedy and joy, it’s tough and hectic, but it’s never dull and it always feels important. I always love the fast pace, the impact of our reporting and the fact that no two days are the same.
In my current role as Chief Information Officer/Digital Growth Manager, I help lead our daily coverage for online and print media. I also work with our online team regarding online design, newsletters, social media and web alerts.
Compared to those early days in Stockholm where we looked at traffic logs, we can understand and see what resonates much more with our readers than we could before.
To this day, there are a few things I care about more than most: how do we stay relevant to our readers? What do our readers want to read? What drives them to read a story? Where do they find our stories? On search engines, social networks, in newsletters? What will make them engage?
I always feel genuine joy when we receive reactions to a story from our highly engaged readers in the Democratic press. Good or bad, comments in articles and social media, emails, phone calls or the best reward – when we turn a casual reader into a subscriber, they tell us we’re doing something that matters.
Looking back at my somewhat diverse career, I’m grateful that I’ve done a lot of firsts and said yes when I was offered something I’d never tried before. Otherwise, how will you learn?