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Commending peers - why or why not?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by zebracoy, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    A colleague of mine and I had a lengthy discussion last night about the lack of general "Hey, good work!" that goes on in our shop today, and I was wondering if this is something that's uniform across the board or if we're a bunch of grumpy bastards.

    We had a minor reshuffle of usual roles last night when a couple guys couldn't make it in, and one of our SEs took the time after first deadline to give a few of those affected a vocal pat on the back for doing something they doesn't usually do rather well.

    Personally, I try to go out of my way to send a quick e-mail to a fellow writer if I see something I like, if I think he went above and beyond in trying to get a story, etc. But apparently, I'm the only one - as my colleague said, "There's just not enough praise going on around here."

    I got feedback from someone other than an SE for the first time in several months earlier this week, and it wasn't even direct - it was along the lines of, "Nobody tells you that you do a good job, do they?" That's what spurred the discussion.

    I turn to you. Has the state of the industry, the constant worry about downsizing, and all that jazz soured most of our moods? We all plug away at this job, mostly to negative response from the community, and don't often get recognized by anyone for it. What does that mean?
  2. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    Great, great post. Just wanted to take the time to say that. Well done.
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I don't think it's current. I think newspaper people have been grumpy since time began, and they just don't do compliments well.

    The bonus is that when you get one, it really carries a lot of weight. When I was working for my local paper while in college, one of our really hard-assed desk guys read the first paragraph of my first live game as he was editing it (on paper, of course) and said, simply: "Hmm. Good lead."

    It was like winning the damn Pulitzer.

    Managers in this business hear that we don't give enough feedback all the time.
  4. TwoGloves

    TwoGloves Well-Known Member

    It's rare at our place because many times things get so screwed up that somebody simply doing their job correctly would qualify as a job well done.
  5. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    It definitely should be done a lot more often if someone merits it.

    My publisher almost never dispenses compliments. When he complimented one of my columns that I wrote very quickly, I was floored.

    One week, I went into the office of the other paper in our group. I filled in for the editor because he had a family emergency. When I got to the office, the secretary said "good paper this week." I found out later that she rarely doles out compliments, so it made me feel even better.
  6. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    This isn't just a newspaper phenomena.

    I worked with a guy (he was actually my best friend) who owned a successful book publishing company.

    I asked him once, "Hey, Al, how come you never compliment anybody?"

    His response, "What for? For doing their job?"

    If there were 100 things you had to do, you could do 99 brilliantly and he'd be all over you for the one that you may have slightly screwed up

    He was a grumpy old man when he was born.
  7. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    I never get compliments from my SE or ASE. Come to think of it, nobody in the office has told me "good story" yet. However, I have heard several nice things from people in the community saying that our paper is the #1 place to go for coverage of Legion baseball. Those make me feel good and give me the pat on the back needed to push through writing ruts.
  8. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I love hearing the compliments, though they seem to come in bunches.

    I think it's best they're not thrown around all the time. You are just doing your job, and you should do it well all the time. But too many praises water down the ones that are truly earned.
  9. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    I always pass out compliments. If we do a good job, I'll say something. I know no one else in the community will.

    If I read something I like from someone else at another paper, I'll let them know as well, especially if it's someone I know.

    Nothing wrong with telling people they do a good job. Like I said, you won't get it too often from readers.
  10. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    I sent a friend/coworker an e-mail yesterday saying I really enjoyed her lede. That I thought it was very well-written.

    I get occasional e-mails from coworkers saying they liked my stuff. It's nice to hear.
  11. RossLT

    RossLT Guest

    I had an editor who said he didn't dispense compliments that often because when he did they would mean more?
  12. onebigfella

    onebigfella New Member

    My theory on this is that many of the people who have been promoted to managerial positions are not leaders in any sense of the word. Many times they've been there the longest. An occasional, "Hey, that was a good lede," can go a long, long way.
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