I love my newsroom. The people who work for my newspaper are quality, experienced journalists who know their shiznit when it comes to their beats. I thought I should just get that out there before I talk about this meeting we’re having tomorrow regarding getting them to do more web stuff. I respect these people and admire their ability to get out there in our community and be people-persons. As a very shy person myself, I envy that quality.
I think that’s why I worry so much about how much I feel like I’m nagging these guys about stuff like twitter and commenting. I have to find a balance between nagging and keeping their respect. There’s no magic way to go about this though, because all newsrooms are different. And, I’m finding out my newsroom is vastly different to most others. With the recent OWH purchase, and even with the GateHouse purchase of my paper, I discovered that my newsroom has it easy when it comes to the web.
They’ve grown used to the Online department just “doing it for them” (like getting on to make a correction to a story, or doing all of our video.) Until GateHouse came along, reporters and editors had nothing at all to do with posting stories. It was either the copy desk each night, or myself during the day taking care of posting to the web. I know, right? I actually blame our old 64-step clunky system we used to post stories for that though, not the newsroom. But because the system sucked so much, the newsroom got used to not having to do it.
But now that they are posting updates now and then (still not at the frequency we would like), the more I talk about things like checking comments, posting comments, using twitter, the more they look at it as “more work.”
So last week, I had the commenting discussion (reporters should be watching comments, and participating when they can) with someone and I got the “Well they don’t have much time…” This caused the eyebrow to go up because I’ve been waiting to hear that excuse from the newsroom. Not to be a snarky wench, but it’s hard to swallow that when I see a reporter or two wandering around and chatting with others about non-work stuff for 30 minutes or more. So I brought this up to my lovely friend and coworker and it made him stop and think about that. He then agreed.
And as if to illustrate my very point, later that day a reporter wandered over and chatted with this fellow and another reporter for close to 45 minutes about football etc.
Now – don’t mistake me (because I know this may someday be read by the aforementioned reporters) – I have no problems at all with the chatting. It doesn’t bother me, and I enjoy the opportunities to get to know my coworkers better. I think in a wacky environment like a newsroom, it helps to have a strong relationship with your coworkers, both on a personal and professional level. I know that the work does get done, and I know there are days when everyone really is uber-busy. But the thing that I can’t find it in my heart to believe is that if you do have time to chitchat, you cannot then come back to me with “I’m far too busy to do this Twitter thing or read online comments.” Harsh, but true. It’s the old retail adage, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” Works in this case too.
So this meeting was called, by someone who is not me, shortly after I pointed out to my friend and coworker that that reporter made my chitchat point for me. This gives me much hope that we’re on the verge of a change. That a crack has appeared in the wall between Online and my newsroom. I’m hopeful, nervous, and hoping the meeting doesn’t turn into anything that would patch up that crack and strengthen the wall. I want the wall to come tumbling down. I want them to “get it.” I want to listen to their ideas and use them. I want it to be circular. It shouldn’t just be me and my department dictating what they need to be doing. It should be both departments collaborating on ideas to make the web AND print stronger.
So I’m going in with a sunny smile and as much enthusiasm as I can muster. I will not be antagonistic or let my occasional frustration show. I will not be snarky, condescending or patronizing (which is an ocassional problem for me when I talk to people who don’t/refuse to “get it.” Need to watch it.) I will be open to anything they have to say and do my best to find ways to refute their arguments without pissing them off.
I may need to bring the stress ball with me.