How A Bad News Director
Can Ruin A Good Newsroom

How A Bad News Director Can Ruin A Good Newsroom

Written by News Gal
🕒 April 27, 2018

I had a news director that I could not stand.

The man was an idiot. He had no people skills, and zero news judgement.

No one in the newsroom respected him because he made terrible decisions, didn’t stand up for his employees, and made dreadful editorial judgement calls.

The news director is the captain of the ship, the leader of the team. The news director should be someone who you trust to make difficult decisions. He or she should be someone who you can count on to have your back.

A bad news director can lead to bad newsroom morale, and that’s exactly what happened in my situation.

This guy was dumb as rocks. I’m not even exaggerating.

He could never make a decision in a timely fashion, and when he did make decisions they were always wrong. Always.

He constantly thought there were “more to” stories than what we would report. He always made us find something “dramatic” or “scandalous” about every story we were assigned.

If we weren’t exaggerating something, he didn’t think it was correct.

He once yelled at me for not reporting on something that he said happened at a council meeting. I was at the meeting, and the topic he thought I should be talking about was never discussed.

He didn’t believe me. So he called the head of the council to try and prove that I missed something. The head of the council let him know the topic wasn’t discussed. The news director apologized to me by saying, “well, it was supposed to be on the agenda.”

He never trusted his reporters or anchors. He would email us during newscasts to tell us we had information wrong. It was rarely ever wrong. He just never knew what he was talking about.

He drove everyone in the newsroom crazy.

I know, you’re probably thinking I’m a disgruntled employee and that he really wasn’t this bad. Trust me, he was.

In one year, a dozen people quit. Reporters broke contracts, photographers found better opportunities, and anchors refused to extend their contracts if he was still going to be the boss.

It’s amazing how much impact a leader can have on a team.

There are good news directors out there.

A news director should inspire his or her staff to write great scripts, shoot great video, and tell fantastic stories.

A news director should encourage their reporters, anchors, producers, and photographers to come to them when they have ideas or issues.

A news director should understand the market, and what’s important to viewers. A news director should also understand the people in his or her newsroom, and what they want and need to succeed.

A good leader has the respect of his or her employees. It doesn’t mean that they are friends with their employees, but it means they are professional, helpful, and their biggest cheerleader.

I want a news director who believes in me and the team.

A good news director makes me want to work even harder than I already do. He or she makes me want to do whatever I can so that I don’t let them down.

When you’re looking for a job, make sure you do your research on who will be your leader. If he or she gets too many bad reviews, you might want to consider staying away from the station.

As for the moron I used to work for, he’s at another station now. I seriously do not understand how the man continues to get management jobs.

I’ve talked with some of his current reporters and anchors and they all have the same complaints.

They’ve also told me that several people in the newsroom have quit under his tenure. I’m assuming he’ll be looking for a new job again soon.

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3 Comments

  1. I 100% agree. In my experience a bad boss can ruin any good office

  2. I’m working for one right now and it is killing me. I’ve worked in a number of newsrooms over the past 30 years.
    I’ve had bad news directors – but usually they had one redeeming quality. The jerk who had solid news judgement. The nice guy – who didn’t. Something that balanced the part that made you nuts. Nope, this guy fails on all counts. I’ve got the guy you described. I’ve addressed many of the issues with him (mostly about content) and with upper management. The guy in charge hired him and his ego won’t fire him – he’s bound and determined to make this guy work out.
    I’m seriously thinking about writing a sitcom based on this – it’s gotten comical. Thank you for writing. I googled the topic after a painful news meeting and found your post – saved me from drinking before noon.

  3. It sounds to me like you — and the person who’s original blog post inspired your comment — have the wherewithal and the industry experience to be the kind of news director you would admire and enjoy working for. So why not get in the game and pursue a news management job?

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