The majority of leaders believe that a positive company culture is important for an organization to thrive.
Positive workplace cultures have been tied to greater creativity, productivity and employee loyalty, just to name a few benefits.
Many of us have worked in positive and negative organizational cultures, and I’m sure we’d agree that positive is best, but how can we make sure a stressful, deadline-driven workplace like a newsroom has a positive culture?
Brittany Horn, an investigative reporter for Delaware Online and former Daily Collegian EIC, joined us for the last #EditorTherapy of the academic year to chat about about how to make newsrooms positive places to work.
Here’s what Brittany had to say!
Note: Remember that Brittany was writing in Tweet form. I’ve compiled her tweets here to make it easier, but don’t go all grammar snob on us. Just take the lessons from the content. Fair? Ok.
Q1: Why is it important to create a positive workplace culture in newsrooms?
Brittany: We work in a difficult industry, often covering really difficult topics. If we don’t work in a place that we feel valued, that we enjoy coming to every day, our work will reflect that, and ultimately, it’s our readers who suffer.
Q2: Why do you think people don’t create positive cultures automatically, given all of the benefits?
Brittany: Because they feel really hard to create. Being the only positive person in the room can be draining, but that energy truly does rub off on people and spread. If you’re giving off what you want out of your workplace, it tends to show success.
Q3: How did you recognize that your newsroom’s culture needed a revamp?
Brittany: We were starting to see retention problems in our staff, and despite continuous coverage of a national news story, people stopped seeing the value of working for the student newspaper. Less people were in the newsroom every day. And that was problematic to me.
Q4: How did you go about changing your newsroom’s culture?
Brittany: I focused on making the newsroom a place people wanted to be again. That meant publicly recognizing staffers who were doing great work, making sure I didn’t ask tasks out of my staff that I wasn’t willing to do myself, and even stocking ice pops at the office.
Q5: How did you get others to “buy in” to the cultural change?
Brittany: I refused to give them anything less. That meant giving myself a limited number of “bad days” or days where I didn’t come in with a positive attitude. I quickly realized that if I modeled what I expected of my staff, they rose to the occasion.
Q6: What if you aren’t a naturally positive person? How can you implement this type of change?
Brittany: It’s a mindset shift. You don’t have to wake up tomorrow with rainbows coming out your ears, but you do need to take a hard look at your job + staff and recognize what an important role you all have in the community. And then celebrate + remind people of that.
Q7: Help us out! What are some little changes that will make a big impact?
Brittany: Huge thing right off the bat: Praise publicly, critique privately. Recognize those who are improving. Get to know your staff members as more than reporters. Make time in the office meaningful — and fun! And remember that you set the tone.
Q8: What do you do when people refuse to change or participate in change?
Brittany: I didn’t lose sleep over people who didn’t want to make the newsroom better, but I also didn’t make them my focus. Give your time and energy to those who want the newsroom to improve + succeed. Others either get on board or weed themselves out.
Q9: How do you know if a cultural shift is happening, if it’s working?
Brittany: I remember there being an energy shift. People stayed later, they helped each other out — the newsroom became family. And by the last production night, my biggest concern was how to get everyone to final press run. That’s when I knew we did it.
Believe it or not, focusing on the newsroom and the people within it rather than all the outside voices tends to produce the best journalism.
I absolutely love learning from #EditorTherapy guests, and I learned so much from Brittany. Thank you again, Brittany, for being our guest.
If you’d like to know more about the chat in general, check out #EditorTherapy. The chat is at 9 p.m. CST Wednesdays, and we’ll be back after summer break.