A recent visit from the middle school librarian from Dallastown offered an interesting moment of insight for many of us at the York Daily Record.
Jen Hendry, through the Educator In The Workplace program, spent three days in the newsroom, the Advertising department and the Audience Development department. In short, she wanted to see everything about our operation here at 1891 Loucks Road.
When Hendry first contacted me about this in the spring, I threw out a challenge that I did not expect her to take up. If she really wanted to understand the modern newsroom in three days, I said, she needed to work three different shifts. Without flinching, she agreed.
That combo of shifts helped her see what we do from 6 a.m. right up through about 10 p.m. We tend to keep active in the newsroom through 2 a.m., and our first person is at their desk by 5:30 a.m. But this schedule gave Hendry a broad view of our work.
Offered through Shippensburg University and administered through the York County Economic Alliance, Educator in the Workplace is a one-week course that helps teachers better understand the world for which they are preparing students.
It is hard to plan a newsroom visit because we never know exactly what we will be dealing with on any given day. It so happened that Hendry was here the morning we needed to report on an awful crash that killed two Red Lion High School students. Hendry sat alongside Breaking News web producer Anthony Machinski as he coordinated coverage in the early hours of the day after the crash. She learned about how we have focused a lot of training lately on how best to deal with coverage of traumatic events. And she saw how important it was for many in the communtiy to share their memories of these two young men who died.
I was curious as to how this long-time educator would view our approach to covering this tragedy. Would she see us as callous vultures interested only in selling newspapers? Or would she see us as I do, as people who feel the pain of those we cover and measure that against the urgent need for the public to get accurate and complete information about the deadly crash?
Thanks for the visit, Jen. We learned a lot from you, and based on what you added to your website, seen here to the right, it looks like your experience will help hone the students you work with at Dallastown.
Jen Hendry’s Top 10 Takeaways:
- Publishing a newspaper requires a complex system that is run by extremely competent and dedicated people with all kinds of skills.
- Successful people must communicate well and often.
- Respectful leadership leads to more teamwork.
- Flexibility means survival.
- Empathy and sensitivity lead to good decision making and better customer service.
- Embracing new technologies and always looking ahead is key to being better than your competition.
- Deadlines are critical and it takes grit to stay on track.
- Professionalism is important, but so is being authentic.
- Understanding your audience is a critical piece when it comes to branding your product.
I will be working some of these ideas into my lesson plans. I will be telling stories, but will also try to build some real life practice into the group work in my classroom.