Train to retain: Semester-long training for better reporting

By Mary Kate Brogan

Training is an important part of every news organization, but training new staff members is something The Pendulum has not been taking nearly as seriously as it should. I don’t mean training new editors once they’ve gotten the position; I mean training everyone who wants to be in the organization.

Today, I went to News Academy: Grow Your Staff with a Comprehensive Training Program, where students from Penn State’s The Daily Collegian, Georgia Southern’s The George-Anne and Eastern Carolina’s The East Carolinian spoke about their experience creating and implementing a “candidate program.” A candidate program takes potential new staff members and puts them through a semester of weekly trainings and assignments to show that they want to work for the news organization.

thumb_1174__auto_d6b5599af8d2bf25ecfcd8f733adc041During the semester, the students need a minimum of four published stories, online or in print (although this is for daily, not weekly publications) and need to meet with editors or the editor-in-chief from time to time to receive progress updates. At the end of the semester, the candidates take a test to determine whether they will receive an interview. From that interview they may receive a full staff position (most of which are paid, but this often doesn’t matter to candidates because they’re just excited about the program).

This system has worked for several student news organizations who were steadily losing members (because of loss of interest, lack of a community, what have you), and I think it would work for The Pendulum. I’ve heard editors, both at other news organizations and our own, complain about the quality of content, written and non,  that they’re getting back.

How can we expect quality stories and quality content without properly training our reporters and future leaders of our organization? I don’t know.

This training program could be a great asset to Elon’s student media as a whole, but it only works if we actually use it. I highly recommend considering this model for training future staffers, perhaps even visiting ECU to learn how their training program has worked for them. I think this will help The Pendulum not only retain more members but have those members bond and get closer to benefit the organization much more in the future.

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