Improving communications within the team

– When we’re in our weekly staff meetings, having every desk editor whether it be from features to photos, have an idea of what content we’re putting in the paper the following week so that Cassidy and crew can begin layout.
– Emphasizing the importance of collaborating with writers and editors with photographers, which I can help facilitate.
– I can definitely do better at communicating my expectations better in terms of learning not to give up on a story or subject because of one roadblock, and to keep pushing more.

Communication Strategies

I think our class discussion last week made me realize communication within a single section is good, but communication throughout the entire paper is essential. I, personally, don’t do that enough.

First, I think I need to have better communication with visuals prior to the day of production. Most sports photos right now are file photos because there hasn’t been any event or practice we were allowed at since March. So, I need to work on coming up with graphic ideas for stories to enhance the stories and my section of the paper. This could mean asking Cassidy to sit down with me and my assistants when we’re planning out content so she could help us brainstorm. She could definitely notice when a story could use a graphic better than I can.

I also think I could talk more with the editors from other sections like Ethan from news or Liza from features. I think the three of us could do a better job of helping each other out with story ideas or even overlapping stories. Sports stories sometimes can be classified as news or features so working together could help us produce better content. I also think having some writers overlap sections would be useful especially with news because they are short on writers. Hopefully, that changes with the freshmen coming in.

Communicating more with copy is also something I can improve on. Not everyone understands sports language to the extent I do or my assistants do so sometimes words or phrases get misunderstood and changed. I think if I just sat down with copy and went over some of the misunderstandings with them or asked them if they didn’t understand anything we could solve those issues very quickly.

When sports are resumed and photographers are allowed at events, I want to have more communication with them. When I’m thinking of a story idea, I have specific photos I have in mind or things I want to be visually portrayed. Conveying those ideas to them before they go and shoot an event would help convey the story’s message better.

News Section Communication

As it stands, I think the majority of our news department’s communication works pretty well. The prime example of this being story ideas. Stemming from our discussion last week in class about this, I thought I might expand on the benefits.

  • Story Ideas
    • Our department relies a lot on the reporters for content. It gives them freedom in a way that I didn’t expect when I first joined. As we discussed last week, many newsrooms have a problem where story ideas are generated at the top and then sift down, but for us, there is a healthy mix of bubbling up and assigned stories.
      • All reporters must generate three story ideas each week. These then get reviewed by the heads of the news department. This helps generate a lot of ideas and the leaders get to assign the good ones

That being said, there are some issues in certain areas.

  • Technology
    • I like Slack, the service we use to communicate, but it has its issues. Sometimes I won’t receive notifications unless I am specifically @’d or I receive a dm even though I have my notifications turned on. This results in missing updates and possible breaking news
    • To fix this, I think specific text group chats might work better for important things like breaking news, giving updates or other non-immediate issues can be addressed over slack
  • Follow-up
    • A standard should be set that editors and assistant editors should check in with their reporters daily for story updates. It helps keep the reporters on track, while also keeping both parties engaged in their work process.
  • Photos
    • Improve the connection between news and photo departments. Make it easier for reporters to discuss with photographers what they want shown for the article
    • Perhaps make teams with certain photographers being paired with certain reporters. Closer relationships lead to more cohesive teams and better coordinated work in my experience
  • More time to debrief
    • In weekly meetings, I think giving reporters time to discuss what they did the previous week would be just as beneficial as what they plan on doing. Learning from mistakes can be helped this way, as well as helping new reporters learn tips for their own work

Improving communication within the team

While I think that our team communicates well as people, after our discussion in class last week, I definitely think we can learn to communicate better in our positions as editors. Some of the ways that I can do that as ME for Visuals are:

  • Working closely with Ethan and Sam (or anyone on the team with experience in analyzing statistics) to create the most effective infographics. Infographics and data visualization have never really been my strong suit, so perhaps I can learn a thing or two from them. From a reader’s perspective, I know that good infographics are an important piece of a story, and if it’s the only thing people see, I want them to be good.
  • Connect with different sections. Sit down in meetings with news, sports, features, opinions, and buzz to discuss their visions and how my team and I can help bring it to life.
    • Maybe I could host “office hours” of sorts where people can come to me with questions or ideas. That way I can make note of them and discuss them with my design and photo teams.
  • Be more conscious and involved with the photography. Give more direction on what I would like to see for upcoming stories. I already talk to Ryan Ash, our photo editor quite a bit, so this should be an easy fix.
  • Share story ideas when they come to mind. I feel like as a designer, I sometimes don’t think I have much to contribute when it comes to actually creating the stories. After our discussions in this class, I definitely feel like I have some ideas to share with some of my fellow editors.