“Adding Young Voices to the Mix of Newsroom Advisors”
– Steven A. SmithA newsroom’s younger staffers can play a significant role in charting the organization’s future. What follows are some ideas about how to engage them in this process:
- By opening news meetings, editors can bring a newsroom’s younger staff members to the table where they can participate as fully as the most senior editor.
- If responsibility for daily critiques rotates, make sure the younger staff members have their chance.
- Assign a younger reporter to write summaries of daily meetings to be distributed to staff and posted online. See The Spokesman-Review’s “Daily Briefing” blog for an example, at www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/briefing/.
- Schedule meetings among all newsroom staff under 30 on a regular basis. The meetings should be off the record and no-fault. Ask participants what is working in the room and what problems need to be addressed. If older staffers complain they are being left out, meet with them, too. But expect the bolder, most honest interaction to occur with the young staff members.
- Make sure young staff members are involved in all study groups, staff committees, and task forces. Make sure they hold leadership positions in such groups.
- When developing a new product or new platform, put one of the best, brightest and youngest in charge. Give them the support necessary to develop a plan and implement it.
It’s important to remember that the future of our industry, absolutely unseeable for most of us, will one day be the present for our young employees. They need to be involved in developing plans for the next 40 years—their next 40 years, not ours.