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Archive for December 17th, 2013

This continues my series on advice for new Digital First editors.

Jack Warner, photo linked from Wikimedia

Word has reached me that you are having fun on the set. This must stop.

When Mimi was reading Lauren Bacall’s autobiography, Lauren Bacall By Myself, she laughed and read the passage above aloud when the actor told about a telegram studio chief Jack Warner sent to the set of The African Queen with the message above. Warner sounded like too many editors I have known who embrace the serious side of the news business but forget about the value of fun.

A newsroom should be a fun place. The editor should be tolerant (even encouraging) of harmless fun and should sometimes be a leader of newsroom fun.

Some ways to foster fun in your newsroom (your mileage may vary; adapt your approach to your own sense of humor, your own creativity, and to your newsroom’s culture and needs):

Food is fun. No editor should overlook the role of food in newsroom morale. Whether you pop from the newsroom budget or your own pocket, occasionally pass the hat or organize a holiday potluck, your newsroom should enjoy food together. Buy pizza or sandwiches for election night (of course) and occasionally for a lunchtime workshop or a brownbag discussion of an important issue in journalism or whatever is on your staff’s minds. Buy farewell cakes for departing staff members. A measure of camaraderie in your newsroom will be the people who bring their own baking or other cooking into the newsroom, or those who stop on the way to work or over the lunch hour to buy a box of donuts or cookies. (more…)

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