So I’m admittedly a young journalist with plenty left to learn about this industry and about the pulse of a newsroom. I’ve been in the professional setting for three years, and have learned a lot. I’ve made sure to pay attention to everything I can, and learn from each and every journalist I get to work with. And here are a few of my thoughts.
The managing editors of each paper I work with have their own, distinct style. From loud and tough to more quiet but omnipresent, they’ve found a management style that works. And each of them worked like hell to get to the position they have now. More often than not, they worked at said newspaper for a while before rising in the ranks, and since entering the position, they’ve made it their business to know their communities and know what they need their staffs to be working on.
That said, it’s obvious to me they each demand a high level of respect.
Each and every page I design, I put together with the reader in mind. And at the guidance of these editors, I’m able to prioritize content based on what their community needs (and wants) to know. I trust their judgment, enter conversations with them when I need to, and work my ass off because that’s what they’re doing 50+ hours each week.
It kills me when others either ignore that knowledge or overwhelm it because they think they know better. Unless you have more time in that position, solving problems and building a relationship with said community, you don’t. And you should defer to that knowledge, especially if you can’t equal that experience. Not to say conversations or healthy debate shouldn’t happen, but let us not think we know better than those who have worked hard to know better. Disagree - respectfully. Let go of ego and step back. Make sure that argument is based on legitimate problems, not personal views or laziness.
I love that these managing editors work so hard to produce a great product. They give a lot to things like advertising issues, reader complaints, etc., tackling in-house conflict and economic strains, all to make sure the daily paper keeps arriving each morning. Just as we all should (and do, more often than not) work hard to get that paper up to a high standard.
That Being Said
I’m one of those people who wants to be busy. And one of the great joys I’ve found (as a small-newspaper cheerleader and advocate, especially) is tackling issues these editors come to me with. Whether it’s a special section they’re worried about filling, or a design issue they’re consistently running into, I love being someone they come to to solve said issues. They know what their paper needs, and I work like hell to make sure they get those requests met - pending how reasonable they are, etc. It’s the least I can do to help each paper reach the quality they - and their communities - deserve.
Something we all need to keep our eye on is fresh looks and relevancy with our print product. A sometimes dwindling piece of the puzzle, we need to make sure to innovate the print edition’s look and style and accessibility when we can. And if that means adding a rail to get relevant news up front, that’s what we do. If it means eliminating clunky flags in favor of more design-friendly looks, we should address possible changes. New fonts or styles that freshen the look and eliminate wasted space? Done.
We can’t forget that fresh looks can engage a younger, more fleeting audience. And honestly, evolution of look and style are what keep a newspaper a bit more relevant. Sure, it’s what we’re used to. But we can’t let our consistency or fear of change keep us from questioning what can be cut or added or changed to make sure the paper best serves the community.
I’m done rambling now. Here’s to the editors I respect and admire and learn from each and every day. Who give me chances and opportunities to push my own abilities. I appreciate you and everything you do.