Handle with Care

Tom Pierce, former copy editor at the Tampa Bay Times, once worked under a man who later went on to edit the San Francisco Examiner. He was the one who thought up the famous one-word headline on 9/11: “BASTARDS!” According to Pierce, it was a word he used often. An interesting anecdote, in my opinion, and he told it to make a point: As an editor, you have to be diplomatic. Yelling and cursing gets you nowhere.

During his session today, Pierce immediately identified all the problems that plague section editors everywhere. It was clear he once worked for a college newspaper. Though he didn’t offer solutions to the really vexing issues, like staffers who consistently don’t meet deadlines, he did attest to importance of diplomacy.

“Take the newbies under your wing the best you can, and help them along,” he said. “You have to be ‘politic’ about it — a word seldom used as an adjective. You’ve got to train them and trust them.”

I agree training is indispensable, and it’s something that should be implemented next semester. Hopefully it helps all our writers reach their full potential.

“You have to be reasonable with reporters,” he said. “You may have really talented people, but you can spoil it by being a jerk.”

None of Pierce’s ideas were really novel, and I’m generally not a jerk to my reporters. But the session did remind me that The Pendulum is a learning experience for everyone, and it should be treated as such, as least at first.

— Katie Blunt


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