Three months in, editor-in-chief role continues to challenge, teach

Thus far this year, the Vanguard has produced 12 issues and six Cardinal Updates. In my three months as editor-in-chief, here are six things I’ve learned (or am in the process of learning):

1. Everything is a process, and that process doesn’t always work exactly as you anticipate or expect it to. The first few weeks of being in this role were admittedly rough. Things I didn’t know about kept popping up, I was adjusting to responsibility and still trying to determine exactly what my goals were. This initial learning was a process, just as story assignments and production is every week. However, in my opinion, dedication and commitment to that process and active cognizance of both its flaws and its successes is what helped streamline the adjustment period.

2. Sometimes, just letting things go helps. I tend to be a perfectionist, but being in this role has showed me that obtaining perfection is often not completely possible, but also can be rather disheartening.

Mistakes happen, both on my end and on the part of other Vanguardians. While it is my responsibility to ensure to the best of my ability that things are done properly, it’s not always possible. Letting go and realizing that lacking perfection is not the end of the world is important. Things might not be perfect, but they’re often still good.

3. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is just how crucial a good team is to success, not only in terms of creating a newspaper, but in general.

Being surrounded by the other Vanguardians, particularly the desk editors, has been a godsend this year. We all know each other fairly well, are friends and know how to handle tough situations together when they arise. I’ve mentioned before that Joey always tells me I can cry on Jamie’s shoulder when I need to, but the truth is, we’re a pretty supportive group, and the team environment we’ve created is something I’m proud of.

4. Related to a team environment is the importance of communication. I’m aware of a few stumbles I’ve had this semester where I didn’t communicate well enough with editors, writers and photographers, and this failure made things harder for all. I’ve had to make a substantial effort at trying to be considerate of how and when I communicate, particularly when things are going wrong or deadlines are looming.

Making a few small changes has made a difference, but the other thing I’ve discovered is that communication really is hard. Setting deadlines while trying to be consistent, effective and productive, particularly with a fairly large staff, has been a challenge.

It’s been a really good challenge, though, and the one I’ve gained the most from. Communication is powerful, both when it succeeds and when it fails. Trying to be a better communicator has forced me to be more considerate, plan further ahead and be better about dealing with circumstances that arise unexpectedly.

5. Being patient with others when things are going wrong is something I need to work on. I’ve found that handling things with a problem-solving mindset is usually a lot more effective than panicking, both in terms of finding a solution and in communicating with others.

6. I like the idea of continuous improvement, even if it’s in small ways. This year, we’ve cut weekly production time by four hours, created the Cardinal Update and are working on a few other things. I’m excited about the innovations we’ve come up with so far and the ways we’ve been able to improve. It’s rewarding to see changes, and I think that might be my favorite part of this role.

All in all, I still have a lot to learn, and my impression of my time in this role is that it’s been far from perfect. However, I’m still learning and growing from it every day, and I firmly believe that’s what counts.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 17th, 2014 and is filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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