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  • LEDE 2011: Panelists tackle do's, don'ts on being new in a newsroom

  • LEDE participants asked questions of GateHouse newsroom and corporate executives, and learned tips for what to do and what not to do when you're new in a newsroom.

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  • LEDE participants asked questions of GateHouse newsroom and corporate executives, and learned tips for what to do and what not to do when you're new in a newsroom. Panelists included David Arkin, executive director of GateHouse News & Interactive Division.
    Within the first week, depending on size of the newsroom, you might want to make brief remarks to the newsroom as a whole. Make sure you practice those before talking so you make the best possible first impression.
    But you wouldn't want to use that group meeting to ask what people don't like about the newsroom. You'll get better stuff with one-on-one meetings in weeks two to four.
    Be sure to have those individual conversations with key managers to have a better understanding of what they're doing. Early on, you need to listen and ask questions. This is not the time for grand speeches that outline all of your new ideas. Just set the tone in broad strokes.
    Find people on your staff who share your vision, people who think critically. Have an open mind about who those people are -- they might not always be in editor positions. Don't assume people are in the right places. People could be miscast.
    Managing up: Have a conversation with your boss early on. Understand who your supervisor is. Talk about incremental changes to keep the person apprised. If you've both agreed on changes during the interview and job offer, make sure the boss knows that you'll take time to know the operation before implementing changes. Set preliminary launch dates.
    Be aware of other people in the organization who you should touch, such as department heads. If you're a top editor, outside of the publisher, who should you be in front of? Learn who is in other levels of management. Who does your boss report to, andhow you can have facetime?
    Be keenly aware you are a public figure. And learn about your community. Leadership is not just how you manage folks in your newsroom. You need to begin to meet people in your community. Drive around a lot. In a column, Gauger invited anyone to call him, and he would go to lunch with them. Or ride along with ad directors and ad reps. Also find out who belongs to a civic organizaiton and go with that person to meetings. Join Rotary, Lions Club or another civic organization.
    Resist the urge to tell them how to do things and criticize how they do things. Understand how things work first before you make changes. Don't try to show people how smart you are right away. And don't try to make a big splash with a project right out of the gate.
    Find early successes, and position something as your employee's idea. Praise that person when he or she makes a decision that reinforces your ideas.
    Page 2 of 2 - Once you've been around for a six months, you've made some changes, and you'll have some success under your belt. Start some sort of recognition of the success. Take a step back and recognize successes in a formatted way in addition to more immediate recognition of good works. You might try a weekly "best of" note or a newsroom contest that recognizes good work.
    By six months, your staff should start feeling your changes and your leadership. You should have identified the leadership changes on your staff that are necessary to push through your initiatives. By that point, you know what needs to be done, and you've communicated your changes.

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