Deadlines and other myths

My staff and I just finished the second issue of our newspaper, The Mount Mercy Times. We can now let out that breath we’ve been holding and relax.  Now we can say that we know what we’re doing, for the most part.

When I was first appointed editor-in-chief of my school’s newspaper, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I had experience with the layout software, I had two years of experience as an editor, I knew the  AP style of writing, (though there are still of a few words that puzzle me) and I knew how to write.  Still, there was still that leadership role, something I had only experienced in small doses.

I’ve learned that the only way to learn anything new is to just do it. Jump right in the middle and “let’s see what happens” kind of thing.  Though I wanted to get a handle on my position before I actually had to actually do anything, it was almost impossible to do because I had no idea what to expect.  The more I thought about it, the more anxious I became.  I decided that I would take the latter approach and would deal with the issues as they came up.

When deadline for our first issue inched closer, I felt like I was thrust into another world, a world of deadlines and chaos.  I was used to deadlines, I was used to chaos.  But together?  I suddenly had to deal not only with my own story deadlines but all the stories that would go into the paper. I had to deal with headlines and leads and modules and photos and insets and all the other things that go into a newspaper. I knew a little about all these things, but I received a crash-course in the newspaper process. And I loved it.

Yes,  my life has become a three-ring circus.  Yes, I am being forced to be organized and manage my time more efficiently (something I wanted to do anyway…eventually).  And yes, my stress level is extremely high.  But I am gaining valuable information from each issue we put out. I am learning to delegate without feeling guilty about it.  I’m learning to be diplomatic and choosing which battles are important and which don’t matter that much.  I’m learning to speak my mind and be firm.

As editor-in-chief, not only am I learning the fine art of producing a newspaper, I’m also learning how to work with people, all kinds of people. I know I will continue to make mistakes, but how else will I learn?   The best thing I can do is to jump in and just do it.

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