Through strong newsroom management, ND’s translate the imperatives of journalism into action. Most News Directors were promoted into management by virtue of their journalistic skills. Yet, as managers, they need an entirely new set of skills… to deal with people, systems and budgets.
When you manage others, you serve an important role for them — offering direction, encouragement and boundaries. Workplace relationships can be complex but at their heart is the mission you share. Focusing on that mission will help resolve most problems.
You will have some natural management tendencies that serve you well. You should build on those but be mindful of their limitations.
The combination of your leadership style and your management practices will have a powerful influence upon your newsroom culture.
You can learn a lot from the experiences of other managers.
One of the most vexing challenges any manager will face is that of the “problem employee.”
You’ve heard of “managing up?” Managing your relationship with your boss is just as important as managing your staff. Sometimes that relationship is severely tested. Issues & Challenges: When Upper Management Wants to Call the Shots
There’s much more about managing people in the section of this guide called Your Team.
Any recurring outcome or procedure can be managed as part of a system. The best ND’s put efficient systems in place that rely upon roles, processes and principles. This prevents disruption to newsroom operations when people change jobs or unusual events take place.
For example, every day there will be a zillion things clamoring for your attention. It is imperative you have a system for prioritizing and controlling your time usage.
Similarly, you need a system to manage the complex flow of editorial information in a newsroom. See How-To’s → Manage Long-Term Editorial Planning
We also recommend How-To’s → Establish Beats and Desks
As part of your news production process, you might want to consider a system that encourages regular feedback for on-going improvement.
Other suggestions for newsroom systems will come up elsewhere in this guide.
ND’s should manage their department’s budget and be accountable for it.
Budgets typically divide into a personnel section and an operations section. The personnel section will usually outspend the operations section. This means the cost of employees will often lead to tough budget decisions. It helps to remember that they are essential trained communicators who — for listeners — embody the very life of your local programming.
You should have a budget process. See How-To’s → Manage A System for Budgeting
If you are new to budgets, see Samples → News Department Budget
One of the more challenging roles a News Director may step into is helping to raise money for the news department. While most ND’s would prefer to leave fundraising to others, it has become increasingly necessary to involve them in the process of articulating their mission and their needs.
News Department Budget