10 tips for editors on getting along

By · Friday, May 16th, 2014

It seems a good time to revisit the importance of getting along in the newsroom. Many factors can affect the work environment — personalities and pressures among them. A key to comity is effort. Diplomacy helps, too.

Getting along in the newsroom is an attribute that will distinguish an editor from a colleague who is equally skilled at working with content but who has not mastered the art of working with people. These tips are designed to help the reporter-editor relationship, but they can apply to all colleagues in many situations.

10 Ways Editors Can Work Well with Others

  1. Talk to reporters. Don’t get a reputation for talking to reporters only when you have questions. But be sincere. Make small talk only if you really mean it.
  2. Accept others’ weaknesses — don’t be annoyed by them. Reporters probably see weaknesses in you, too.
  3. Show respect. Don’t talk aloud with others about reporters’ stories that need work.
  4. Keep an open mind. Don’t assume the reporter will be unapproachable, even on deadline. Listen to a reporter’s responses to your questions. Repeat the answer as you understand it, to avoid miscommunication.
  5. Take your time. When asking questions, be thoughtful and tactful. Ask specific questions. Be articulate. Decide ahead of time what you don’t understand in a story and what information you think is missing.
  6. Comment on the story, not the reporter. Avoid “I” and “you,” two words that personalize things. If you ever have been disrespected, remember what that felt like.
  7. Be empathetic. Asking questions is the easy part; the reporter has the hard part — answering them.
  8. Work together. Offer suggestions on how to improve copy, but give the reporter an opportunity to do it when time allows. Be ready with feedback.
  9. Give specific praise. Say more than “good job” or “nice work” when a reporter finishes a story. Acknowledge good work on an attention-getting lead; on a well-organized story; or on a clear explanation of an intricate issue.
  10. It’s not about you. Remember that you are only one part of anyone’s busy day.

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