On the cusp

This is my 75th post, something of a milestone for me, especially as it coincides with roughly six months of blogging — and a change of status.

I was part of a group laid off last week from the Chicago Sun-Times, where I had loved, loved, loved being a features reporter. The economics of print journalism caught up with me, as they have with so many others.

Where do I go from here? This is no idle question for me, and I'm just beginning to work out the answer.

Over the course of the past couple of years, I have enjoyed learning about new media, and now here I am, with both feet in the 21st century. I blog three times a week, I tweet, I even built my own website (with lots of help).

At the same time, I believe in the values of old media — checking facts, maintaining a certain distance from sources, and allowing both sides to have their say in a civil discourse.

Even while I find myself slipping into the conventions of the new, I hang onto my belief that the best journalism serves the reader's need to know about, and understand, the society she lives in.

I think I have picked a great topic to write about, because it seems to me that birth is on the cusp, just like me. Modern medicine knows how to make birth safe, and yet the maternal mortality rate appears to be going up.

Not only that, but I can't help but notice that while 99 percent of American women have their babies in hospitals, most of the voices making themselves heard in books and blogs belong to women who are dissatisfied with and critical of the hospital experience.

And with Caesarean-section rates rising out of all proportion to any statistical need for their use, those voices are gaining an intelligent and often passionate following.

Where do we go from here? I believe that one thing that will help us answer that question is an understanding of how far we have come.