This may sound sexist, but I'll say it anyway.
When the NJBIZ newsroom was asked to submit three entries for a March Madness pool, I didn't think of any of my male coworkers. I didn't even consider the idea that input from everyone could result in the best chance of winning. My first and only thought: Melinda Caliendo.
It's fitting that the NCAA tournament bookends Melinda's time at NJBIZ, which ends today. Melinda will be relocating to Belgium (I know! I'm jealous too!) as her husband takes a new job there with his company. Melinda started at NJBIZ two years ago, arriving during the NCAA tournament and diving right into our NJBIZ Brackets coverage. It was a perfect fit for a college basketball fan who is an alum of Butler University, which advanced to the title game in 2010 and 2011. And she leaves just days after the 2013 tournament ends, having contributed to our NJBIZ Brackets coverage for the third straight year.
I was talking to a business contact the other day, and he was lamenting Melinda's departure, saying complimentary stuff about his interactions with her for two years. Then he said, "And who will I talk to now about college basketball?"
Here's the thing with journalism jobs and working with sources: it's all about those conversations about college basketball. Or cooking. Or your kids. Or vacations. Those seemingly inane chats are what create the connections between journalists and sources. And, actually, it's one of several reasons why we have done NJBIZ Brackets for the past three years.
Melinda understood this, big time. As a reporter, she excelled at developing sources and getting them to tell her stuff. (Did you notice all the exclusive hospital news in our Grapevine columns?) She will be missed in the newsroom, with her sourcing ability—and basketball knowledge—being just two of many reasons why.
So about that March Madness pool: Melinda's bracket won it all. Of course. I had no doubt she was the man for the job.