3 tips for appointing senior news media staff

By Johanna van Eeden

Media24 Dailies (Die Burger, Beeld, Volksblad)

Bloemfontein, South Africa


One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to get the right people on board. When hiring, what do you look for?

The most successful senior leaders are at ease when working with a variety of staff on several projects and platforms.
The most successful senior leaders are at ease when working with a variety of staff on several projects and platforms.

Here are three things to consider when appointing senior editorial staff:

1. Know your numbers: With a change in the business model caused by the move to digital, printed publications are under severe financial pressure. Can you — under these difficult circumstances — afford the luxury of an editor who does not understand the business of news?

Celeste LeCompte, the director of business development at ProPublica, wrote an article for the Nieman Lab last year after the closing of Gigaom, stating editorial staff should not be kept in the dark about finances.

LeCompte explained her insights after the company she used to work for became more transparent about their financial information:

“The transparency made me both a better reporter and a better employee. I could see more clearly the real costs of running the business: how the cash flow cycles worked, how the different business units were related, and what was working — and what wasn’t — for our own products. That enabled me to ask better questions about why decisions were made — and sometimes to understand why big changes needed to happen, even if I didn’t like them.”

2. A diverse newsroom: Do you remember the days when we used to call the editor “sir” and only spoke when spoken to? When newspapers were published by powerful men — and often even to support other powerful men? You need only to read Katharine Graham’s book “Personal History” to fully grasp how newsrooms changed over the years.

Appoint editorial managers who can communicate and motivate in a diverse newsroom. A successful editor is comfortable using different techniques and platforms to do this, and has the emotional intelligence to navigate between different groups and get them to row the boat in sync.

How do you motivate Millennial workers, for example? This Forbes article identifies a few ways, but, not surprisingly, some of these suggestions, like giving feedback, are also applicable to other generations.

Mature leaders do not shy away from diversity, but embrace it as a strength. Ask yourself how you can develop a stronger team by focusing on specific groups.

What can you do to improve the conditions at work to enable a young mother who just returned from maternity leave to perform at her best? Do people from minority groups get a sense of belonging in the newsroom?

Is the diversity in your community reflected in your newsroom? And, if not, why? What can be done, keeping in mind that good leaders create opportunities and not expectations?

3. Bounce back: You set the tone and atmosphere in the newsroom. If you are filled with energy and positive about your work, it will influence your whole team. Unfortunately, the same is true if you are negative and have a bad attitude.

In an industry that is changing at a fast pace, make sure you hire resilient leaders who can not only bounce back in difficult situations, but influence others to do the same.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “people with the most resilience tend to be more productive, are less likely to have high health-care costs, and are less often absent from work.”

Most importantly, stay clear from appointing people who think like you and act like you. Seek people who will challenge you and take the company to new heights.

And never hire for the business you run now. Appoint for the future.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” — Theodore Roosevelt

About Johanna van Eeden

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.