Session Title — Managing Your Friends: How to be a Good Boss to Your Newsroom Buddies
Session Speaker: Barbara Allen of Oklahoma State University
When managing your friends there are four basic things you need to know:
1) Get it in writing — If you don’t have a formal written list of policies, rules or regulations, begin to make one. This way, when there is a conflict there is a go-to reference. It is equal and fair, and it should be updated often. Ensure staff members read the handbook and are held accountable.
My take — The Pendulum has a handbook that includes job descriptions, office rules, journalism practices, tips for writing and other logistical information. Having this information is vital. One thing that was not mentioned in the session and I think it should have been was putting the policies online. The Pendulum does not have the policies online, and I think it’s a step we should begin to make. While it’s essential for the staff to understand the process of putting together the newspaper, putting the policies online present a level of transparencies that is needed. It will also stand as a reference staff members can direct reporters and other volunteers to if there is a question or concern.
2)Know what you are talking about — If you’re news editor and you are not aware of events happening on campus and around the world, you lose credibility. To lead a group of individuals you must become an expert in your field. And learn your newsroom. If you are serious about leading an organization learn all aspects including logistics, production and business.
My take — To not know what you are talking about, or even seem out of the loop, is one of the fastest ways to lose credibility in the eyes of the staff. But what ties hand-in-hand with knowing your subject is not faking it. Spreading false information and misinforming someone else not only reveals your lack of knowledge on a subject but your ignorance too.
3) Do unto others: “Do not bemoan your reporters or editors.” Remember if you were ever treated unfairly during your time at the newspaper. Take that sadness and anger and use it make the experience better for those around you. Give positive feedback, have an open line of communication, edit and improve articles with one-on-one editing. As editors, you have the future in your hands and you want to lead by example.
My take — Enough couldn’t be said about this. This is the chord that strikes truest for me. This is something I’ve tried to work on throughout my time as managing editor at The Pendulum and something I want to continue in my next two years. While difficult it may be, we’ve all had bad experiences and we’ve all caused bad experiences for others. It’s learning from those mistakes, and determining the best way to move forward for the betterment of yourself and the staff.
4) Apply the same rules of objectivity in journalism to management — Treat people fairly. If they see you as being equal, it builds respect. Do not promote friends, do not solely hang out with your friends on staff; instead, follow the chain of command within staff and learn to use the journalism objectivity when leading others. If you can not be objective, take yourself out.
My take — It’s difficult when you work with some of your best friends. But the newsroom should be a place where everyone is valued and respected. And that respect should continue outside of the newsroom. We all struggle with it, but maintaining a level of professionalism with your friends you work with, is a must.