A Delicate Balance

Session: Staying in Control

The line between friendship and professionalism in the newsroom of a college publication is often a difficult one to navigate. Outside of the office, you do homework together, eat meals together and might even live together. But, what happens when that threshold is crossed and professionalism has to take over? I attended the session “Staying in Control,” led by Andrea Hewitt and Blaise Hart-Schmidt from Truman State University  hoping to learn more about how to navigate those relationships as a student journalist. What stuck with me the most was what —, the Editor-in-Chief said:

“Business comes before relationships, no matter what.”

There are always going to be certain members of the staff that you’re close with, but that should not dictate the way an organization is run. Cliques should be avoided at all costs.  Deadlines should be strictly for enforced for everyone on staff, no matter their relationship to the executive editors. And criticism should always be saved for in private, while praise is always acceptable in public.

As a leader on the staff, and someone who hopes to continue on staff next year, this is one particular area that I feel very strong about. I do think personal friendships and relationships can sometimes cloud the level of accountability and standards that we hold ourselves, and each other, too. That shouldn’t be the case. When we enter The Pendulum office, all external influences should be turned off immediately and the professional “cap” put on. This session talked a lot about making a mental note to switch from funny to serious, or friendship to professionalism and making the rest of the newsroom aware of when that switch is expected.

More tips for being a good leader:

  • Don’t pull the “I’m in charge” card too early in the conversation – explain your reasoning when exerting your authority, otherwise they will feel slighted
  • Encourage open lines of communication and always make yourself available for questions or concerns
  • Make yourself the absolute authority on all aspects of the publication, and if you don’t know something, know where to find out
  • Be friendly and personable with everyone – always know names
  • Delegate and don’t take too much on – it’s okay to say no sometimes
  • Know how to teach people, but be humble

-Caitlin O’Donnell



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