editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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A crowdsourcing experiment

January 8th, 2008 · 4 Comments

A friend of mine and former colleague emailed me Monday. He’s just been appointed city editor at a daily newspaper and is addressing his staff for the first time on Thursday and asked (probably half jokingly) if I had any words of wisdom.

Knowing that this is his first management post, and remembering what it was like for me when I was in his shoes, I sat down to write back to him and then stopped. While I have some ideas of my own, I wondered what advice you all would have for him? What would you suggest a new young editor say to his staff? What issues should he be thinking about? What words of encouragement would you have to offer? Are there warnings or tips that you would pass along?

So come on editor on the verge readers from (in no particular order): England, California, Washington, Georgia, Florida, Texas, New York, Virginia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Nova Scotia, Canada, Ontario, Canada, Kentucky, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Alberta, Canada, South Carolina, Limburg, Netherlands, Wien, Austria, British Columbia, Connecticut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Indiana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Bucharest, Romania, District Of Columbia, Antwerpen, Belgium, Wisconsin, Scotland, Louisiana, West Virginia, New Mexico, Oregon, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Iowa, Manitoba, Canada, Alaska, Reykjavik, Iceland, Veneto, Italy, Dhodhekanisos, Greece, Utrecht, Netherlands, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic, Tennessee, Kansas, Zurich, Switzerland, Montana, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Vermont, Attiki, Greece, Delhi, India what do you have to say? Help out my friend and share some of that collective wisdom.

Tags: Best Practices · Industry · Leadership · Training

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John Robinson // Jan 8, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Some, in no particular order:

    * Create or find a good list of digital media tactics/skills for them to learn; let them know that this is their present and future
    * Remind them that their development is in their hands
    * Tell them to treat the audience as they would treat close friends — talk with them, listen, engage, laugh, share, etc.
    * Tell them that a journalist’s job is to speak truth to power and that he expects them to speak truth to him.
    * Tell them that failure in pursuit of excellence and innovation is an option.
    * Tell them that it’s a tough job working for a newspaper: You don’t pay them well; you make them work nights and weekends; you have them ask impertinent questions of powerful people; they often get abused by people on the street for what they do….so it’s important to you that they like where they work and what they do. You want them to have fun, to learn and to be energized. And you expect them to help you create that newsroom environment.

  • 2 Heidi Cool // Jan 8, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    I think the main thing to do in a new leadership role is to put the staff at ease. Let them know you respect the team and want to work with them. To that end I would tell them that you don’t anticipate making changes or reorganization until you’ve had a chance to see how the team works, meet with them as a whole and meet with them individually. Let them know that if over time it seems necessary to make changes that you will do it with their input.

    Then I would try to set up one on one meetings with every one in the group as soon as possible, but give them fair notice to prepare.

    While some staff will be nervous about the new boss, others will be trying to make this an opportunity to advance themselves, hopefully through the sharing of insightful ideas and good work, but possibly also through more nefarious stratagems.

    The individual meetings give everyone a chance to speak candidly and in private and help to level the playing field. This also let’s them know you’re approachable. It also let’s you start getting a feel for their personalities and leadership qualities. Some will show up just waiting to see what you have to say while others will show up with ideas and/or portfolio. How much they prepare can be very telling.

  • 3 Wendy Withers // Jan 9, 2008 at 12:03 am

    My main piece of advice is that the new wave of journalists needs constant feedback and encouragement. If he’s lucky, he’ll get the few who actually knows their grammar and AP style and care about getting things right the first time their work graces the copy desk.

  • 4 TomMeagher.com » Blog Archive » Must crawl before walking. // Jun 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    [...] First, I’m no longer my paper’s CAR reporter. Last month, I was promoted to city editor. I can just hear you, in your best Maude Lebowski tone, saying to yourself “And proud we are of you…”. Yes, it’s a nice new job to throw me back at the bottom of a steep learning curve. Thankfully, some friends have been giving me some advice. [...]

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