Published mistakes are leadership opportunities

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After reading the first few sections of this fall semester's readings, I can already tell that I'm going to learn a lot from trusted, experienced newspaper journalists and editors. This go 'round those new to the journalism field are reading Robert Haiman's Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists, while the seasoned student editors are reading the wisdom also contained in Robert Coffey's Best Practices: The Art of Leadership in News Organizations. Now don't let the long titles scare you away. These books were made for journalists, by journalists to be used every day, even at a moments notice.

Haiman begins his book by addressing what is fair when practicing journalism according to both sides of the fence: the public and the reporters. However, it essentially boiled down to the age-old debate over what is "fair" because "readers have many definitions of fairness" (4). So rather than getting into a mud war between the public and reporters, Haiman instead presents us with real problems perceived by the public that have real, fixable answers on the side of reporters.

And the problem that has a solution that I found resonated with Coffey's collections of leadership anecdotes was that of communicating to your team about both making and preventing mistakes, as well as leading your team to successfully deal with those mistakes. Haiman cites the public as seeing every grammar mistake, wrong names, wrong street names, spelling mix-ups, etc. as a reason to not trust a newspaper. So don't you think we should work together to prevent that?

On page six of Coffey, Neal Shapiro says, "This is a team sport. And the value of being in a big show is everybody has to depend on everybody." I think this statement flows into the importance of communicating with your staff members (something I know I would like to improve upon). On page 10, Jay Harris says, "Most of us, particularly those of us who would like to think we are wordsmiths, think that we can tell something to someone one time and they will understand it. " If only. Repetition and clarity will get a job done more efficiently rather than a one stop explanation that's as clear as splattered mud. But as William Hearst III says on pages 11-12, "You can't ever be to good in understanding the real world..." and that leaders need to understand when to work side by side with their staff as well as when to step back and let them breathe.

Now please zip back over to my course's website and check out what my peers and fellow editors have to write about Haiman's and Coffey's journalistic wisdom.

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