This post is part of a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms. Some of the advice might be good for veteran editors, too, and for editors in other companies.
The top editor in a newsroom sets a tone more powerfully than most new editors (and some experienced editors) understand. Your staff is watching. What you do speaks louder to your newsroom than what you say.
An editor who interferes in coverage of friends will send a message that ethics are going to be flexible in the newsroom, just as an editor who discloses friendships and steps back from involvement of coverage of the friends sends a message about the importance of ethics. An editor who micromanages or loses her temper is going to find that other editors on the staff micromanage or lose their tempers.
The editor’s example has always been important in terms of temperament and journalism standards. And it’s especially true and important as your staff learns new digital tools and techniques.
My staff in Cedar Rapids made great strides in Twitter use and liveblogging during my tenure. My training and stating of priorities played important parts in that progress, but I don’t think either was more important than the fact that I underscored the importance in my personal example. I used Twitter daily and personably, both for journalism and for community conversation. I hosted live chats with the community. I wasn’t just parroting priorities I had read on Poynter or heard at a conference. I was living the priorities and the staff knew it.
(I’m probably less aware of the ways my negative example might have influenced the staff – maybe my messy office or my foul language or something worse.)
How has an editor’s example shaped your newsroom or your personal behavior?
A response from Twitter:
— Buffy Andrews (@Buffyandrews) May 1, 2013
— Buffy Andrews (@Buffyandrews) May 2, 2013
Earlier posts with advice for editors
Here are topics I am planning on covering in this series (the order is tentative). What other topics should I cover?
- Disrupting the newsroom culture
- Accuracy and accountability
- Standing up for your staff
- The power of questions
- Respecting authorship
- Face-to-face communication
- Personal life
- Time management
- Developing new leaders
- The editor’s blog
- Role models
The posts probably will run daily Monday-Friday for the next few weeks. If you’re another Digital First editor (or a leader or former leader in another organization) and would like to propose a guest post as part of the series, email me at sbuttry (at) digitalfirstmedia (dot) com and we’ll discuss. I’m not interested in a post of general leadership tips. I’d rather have a post on a particular leadership topic. I will invite a few editors I respect to write posts.