You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but, if you use too much honey, people aren’t going to listen to you.
Being a successful student editor is all about striking the balance between honey and vinegar.
That was the message Miranda Andrade-Ceja gave a group of student media editors gathered for her presentation “Managing Journalists Without Making Enemies of Them.”
Miranda, the editor-in-chief for the Daily 49er, presented the session at the Associated Collegiate Press Midwinter National College Journalism Convention in Long Beach.
Miranda offered three pieces of advice to strike the balance between honey and vinegar in your newsroom.
You don’t know what you don’t know, so it’s important to always be willing to learn. Keep your eyes wide and your ears open, Miranda said.
Don’t participate in drama
Your job as an editor is to mitigate drama, not participate in it, Miranda said.
Always think about what’s best for the publication when dealing with staff issues. What’s best for the pub should drive your decision making, Miranda said.
Know when to step in
Miranda identified three types of “characters” in the typical newsroom and talked about the best ways to deal with each type.
1.The ‘doesn’t seem to be doing their job’ character
This person requires blunt redirection, Miranda said. It’s usually best to sit down with this person and his/her fellow editors to discuss what you expect and need from each other, she said. Your job as editor is to facilitate these groups and allow the subeditors to talk it out.
“It people really love the newspaper and you don’t think they’re doing their jobs, usually you can just give them a little wake up, then they’re back at it,” she said.
2. The ‘is upsetting everyone on staff’ character
This is the character Miranda said she personally finds most challenging. She said honest, face-to-face conversation is the only way to deal with this person.
The person may even have upset you a few times, Miranda said. The best thing to do is get past that, otherwise diffusing the issue will be impossible, she said.
3. The ‘newsroom distraction’ character
It’s important to be gentle but stern with this personality. Don’t embarrass your resident loudmouth in front of the entire staff, Miranda said. You need to remember that the news grind is a loud and social one, she said.
“Call them out and add a little humor to it. I always have humor in the way I manage,” she said. “I can’t threaten them with anything. The only thing that’s going to get their content done is inspiring them with something.”
Who better to teach us about managing journalists than a newsroom manager? Thank you, Miranda, for sharing your expertise with us. I appreciate you!