What Newsroom Managers
Want To Tell You, But Can't...
Managers Want To
Tell You, But Can't...
I’ve seen several articles lately talking about what newsroom managers can do to help their employees, and while this is good advice that should be taken into consideration, I’d also like to point out that it does work both ways.
Let me start off by saying, yes, I am in management. However, I would NEVER ask anyone to do something that I haven’t done myself, or that I’m not willing to do right along with them.
Granted, not all mangers are like me, and some truly are extremely difficult to work with (I’ll save that for another article), but for now let’s just focus on our own personal attitude and actions.
First, stop complaining.
Stop complaining about the equipment, your assignment, staying an extra hour to help with something, cutting a VO/SOT out of your package, the drive to your shoot, lugging around your own tripod and camera, etc. Just stop.
Real talk: Life is hard and, at times, unfair. Sometimes you will have to stay late, and carry your own gear. Sometimes you will have a long drive, or have to work a double to fill-in for someone who suddenly called in sick last minute.
This is reality. Is it fun? Not necessarily. But, it can be a lot better if you have a good attitude.
Now, there IS a difference between staying a few extra hours here and there, and being legitimately overworked on purpose. Know the difference, and if you actually are being taken advantage of, report it.
Journalists are technically never “off.” We’re out in the public, attending events, being curious and sniffing out stories… even at the coffee shop or the gym. This is a 24/7 business. Sometimes, you’re just gonna be going nonstop for a few days or maybe even weeks. That’s the nature of what we do. There’s also a big difference between voicing your concerns and complaining.
Solution: If you do have a concern, you should voice it… BUT are you prepared to offer an answer to the problem you’re talking about?
I believe this could be the perfect way to avoid being seen as “just a complainer.”
What are YOU doing to solve the issue? What have YOU already done to try and resolve the issue, and what are YOU prepared to do to help fix the problem? Try answering those questions before you voice a concern to your manager.
Once you’ve got the answers, now you and your manager can both move forward to reach a resolution.
Also, view the other struggles I mentioned as opportunities to grow and learn. Explore a different aspect of the job, or discover how to work a different position in the newsroom. Learn how to handle pressure, and, most importantly, learn what you’re made of.
Each time you complain, your managers notice. Have you ever gotten passed up for an opportunity? Or, you weren’t chosen for an awesome assignment? Or, you weren’t the one that got to go somewhere really cool? Well, odds are, it’s because you’ve complained in the past and, your managers have taken note.
The best way to overcome a negative mindset is to stop, take a second, and focus on the good that can come from whatever situation you’re in at that moment.
If you truly feel overwhelmed, and don’t know if you can handle it all, and can’t help but complain, (I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it’s the truth) maybe you should think about a different career.
Second, take care of the station’s property.
The gear you have to share, the gear assigned to you, and any station equipment really.
Real talk: We ALL have issues with equipment that has “quirks” or has been “fixed” with zip ties and duct tape (My camera bag literally just got “fixed” with duct tape, so I feel your pain).
It may look rough, but, if it still works, they’re not going to spend the money in their limited budgets to fix it right then.
When you finally do get new equipment, treat it like it’s a newborn baby. Let me say that again…Take care of it!!! As a manger, it is extremely frustrating when you give your team new gear, and a week later have to repair something on it. There should be no need for new gear to be broken so quickly.
Bottom line, news gear is expensive, and news budgets aren’t all that great. Especially in smaller markets. I know it doesn’t make sense that other departments often get more money than the news department but again, life isn’t fair sometimes.
Solution: If something really is broken and there is no way you can use it, show your managers and show someone in your IT department. Keyword: Show.
Still follow protocol, and submit a “ticket” or email or however your station wants requests to be handled, but physically showing your managers the issue makes it real. When they understand exactly “what it’s doing”, or how it’s messing up, they’ll be more likely to fix it, or at least try to find a solution more quickly.
Third, try to really understand your managers.
I know it can be difficult to see your bosses as human sometimes but, they are.
Real talk: Think about all the work issues you’re dealing with. Now, think of how many people are in the news department. Now, think about all the issues they could be dealing with, and add all of that up.
Mangers deal with everyone’s issues…including their own. Remember, they’re human. Sometimes their office feels like a rotating door for complaints. All. Day. Long.
Plus, they deal with the managers of other departments, so that can be strenuous as well. More often than not, they are dealing with company-wide issues as well. There are meetings, and emails, and “scares”, and deadlines of their own that you may never know anything about. That’s part of their job; shielding YOU from any harm.
Solution: Even though they deal with all of that, and much, much more, you should still feel comfortable to reach out if you do need to talk to them about something. Granted, there are some managers who are awful (I’ve worked for a few myself), but for the most part I’d like to think that people get into management because they genuinely care.
The best advice I can give is be patient with them just like they are patient with you.
Final thought: It’s okay to ask for help.
That’s part of a manager’s job…to help you. Many times, issues stem from lack of communication. If they aren’t aware that you don’t know how to do something, or what to do in a particular situation, they’ll get on to you for not doing it.
It’s a vicious cycle, but there is a simple fix: Be open about what you need help with, and what you don’t understand. If you feel you need to find a mentor outside of work for some of the following tips, do so! This is your career and your future. Don’t you want it to be the very best it can be?
Quick Tips that will get you a few brownie points with your managers:
• Be present. Journalists are busy, no doubt about that. However, when there is a meeting, or presentation of some sort, don’t be on your phone. Pay attention to the speaker or what’s happening. Maybe even take a few notes!
• Check your emails. Every day. Multiple times a day. I leave mine up at all times when I’m on my computer. If I’m out on a shoot, (yes, I still go on shoots almost every day…even as management) I’ll check them on my phone.
Just a quick scan after I’m finished, to see if there is anything that needs immediate attention. Oftentimes, those questions that management “never answers” are in an email somewhere that you either haven’t seen or didn’t pay attention to.
• Be more organized. Get a planner, put reminders in your phone, write stuff down. Get it together.
• Be prepared. It’s part of your job.
• Be on time. Always.
• Be a team player!
Always have a good attitude, and have good manners. It goes further than you think!