Find out what the staff wants and needs by asking. You can use a written survey, focus groups—or both.
Get backing from the top.
That means a budget that isn’t the first thing cut when revenues go down.
The right person.
If you create a training editor position, give the job to someone who already has the respect of the newsroom, possesses natural teaching ability, and understands the culture of the newspaper.
Going part time.
If you can’t create a full-time training slot, choose someone in the newsroom with the right skills to coordinate a program on a part-time basis. Even with one day a week and some creative planning, a part-time coordinator can put together a good program.
In-house talent is free and maybe as good as you can find outside. When you go outside, make sure the speakers customize their programs to your paper. Standardized presentations offer little lasting value.
You’ll be more successful if you can respond to staff suggestions and needs for training rather than sticking with your five-year plan.
Go easy at first.
Don’t try to impose your tastes on everyone. Some editors may be threatened and resist your programs.
Use every means at your disposal—newsletter, company bulletin boards, electronic messages, meetings—to let the staff know what you’re doing and how to take part. If staffers feel the training programs are for either management’s favorites or the bottom of the barrel, they’ll ignore you.
Don’t expect huge leaps in quality after a short time. Change will come in small increments, so don’t look back until at least six months on the job.
How will you know if your programs are working? If you get the staff talking and thinking about getting better, that’s success. From The Associated Press Managing Editors’ APME News.
Reprinted by permission.