It’s all about the food.
Ok, maybe not all about the food, but food is really important.
That was the message Kelly Rodriguez gave a group of student media editors gathered for her presentation “Low Pay, Cheap Pizza and Late Nights: Keeping a Staff.” Kelly, the Engagement Editor at Pepperdine Graphic Media, presented the session at the recent Associated Collegiate Press Midwinter National College Journalism Convention in Long Beach.
Kelly started working at Pepperdine Graphic Media to receive a scholarship. Now she says it’s the thing she’ll miss most about Pepperdine when she graduates.
Kelly’s presentation focused on five areas she says are the key to keeping your staff motivated.
It’s important to have high-quality standards and care about the work you’re doing, Kelly said. She said creating policies/procedures and having high expectations helps students advance and improve. She also said that providing a public service to your community and school is motivating, making this purpose important to communicate with staffers at all levels.
Feedback is encouraging for anyone, which means it’s important to master the art of giving and receiving good feedback, Kelly said. She said staffers should be encouraged to hear the “good stuff,” but always understand how they can improve.
“Be honest and gracious with each other. Everyone deserves honest feedback,” she said.
Students are motivated by money, at least initially. Kelly said it’s important to look at options for paying students on your staff. These options include scholarships, stipends, hourly pay, or course credit.
Food creates community. Food in the newsroom boosts morale, rewards the staff for their hard work, and creates a place for people to congregate and talk to each other, Kelly said. She suggested catering food in the newsroom on late nights, investing in a refrigerator and leaving snacks for others to enjoy in a central location in the newsroom.
Providing food for the staff doesn’t have to leave a big hole in anyone’s budget, Kelly said. She encouraged editors to just pick up one extra snack when they’re grocery shopping and leave it in the newsroom.
You get close with the people in your newsroom because you work a lot, Kelly said. She said supportive newsrooms give way to great friendships and great memories, making students want to work harder for each other.
“Late nights and deadlines are bonding experiences, whether you know it or not,” she said. “Learn to love them.”
Who better to learn how to motivate student journalists from than a student journalist? Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your expertise with us. I appreciate you!