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Working scared (b/c of mistakes)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Hustle, May 3, 2009.

  1. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    ... NOT a thread about constantly looking over your shoulder, afraid about being pulled into a 'meeting' with the ME.

    As we're all aware, I got roped into a desk job not of my choosing; it was either give up writing or quit on the spot. Knowing that my wife and I desperately need the paycheck...

    But since I've started, I've done nothing but fuck up. I mean like multiple errors in little more than a month since I got moved. Of course, I made the mistake of looking at my work e-mail when I was off tonight - thought maybe I'd get a rare compliment on the package I'd helped out with on Sunday - but instead found out I'd made another one. And no, it's not a stunt to get moved off of there.

    I go to work every day with this feeling of inevitability that I'm going to get something wrong. I was tense all day Saturday and double- and triple-checked my work. And yet this happens.

    I've gone through losing streaks before, but eventually I've snapped out of them. This one feels different, like I'm headed down a path I can't recover from.

    Suggestions? Ideas? Kicks in the ass?
  2. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    We all go through rough patches. I guess all I can say is do the best you can, then try even harder.
    I think the best advice about this that I've read on this board is check your work. Set it aside for a while. Then come back to it and check it again.
  3. ScribePharisee

    ScribePharisee New Member

    You know what they say about a slump. Take tomorrow as a new day. Because that's what it is.

    Self-fulfilling prophecies suck but they work against you. Leave yesterday alone. Analyze what went wrong and move on.
  4. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    Slow down. If you get to fewer stories but make fewer mistakes, sounds like a good tradeoff right now. Just be thorough. You'll be fine.
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Get enough sleep if you work tired.
  6. JakeandElwood

    JakeandElwood Well-Known Member

    You may be 0-4 now, but you'll win your next eight.
  7. OTD

    OTD Active Member

    The first night I soloed on the desk of the fairly large paper I work for now, I was about 20 minutes late getting off the floor. I was sure I'd be canned. But I wasn't and I improved. I've been there almost 20 years now. Relax, you'll get better.
  8. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member


    If this is a new role, with entirely different responsibilities, maybe you need to cut yourself some slack.

    There is bound to be an adjustment period and a learning curve involved with any new job.

    Can you give an idea of the nature of your mistakes? And, beyond just pointing out something wrong that you did (or missed), what is the feedback that you've been getting from your supervisors regarding your efforts?

    Those things make a difference in a discussion like this.

    Are the mistakes involving gross factual errors, or libel, that you've either missed, or inserted?

    Or, are the mistakes along the lines of missed misspelled words, or wrong punctuation, or a mis-formated element? Because while errors are best avoided, and utmost accuracy is the first rule of good journalism, their scale and proportion do, or should, make a difference in deciding whether to forgive or condemn you.

    Besides pointing something out to you, is anyone actually condemning you or your work, or holding it up for ridicule?...Besides you, I mean?

    Your bosses probably know that this role was not one you chose, and it sounds like a new position in which your experience will come with time. Your supervisors, hopefully, realize this, and are cutting you some slack. Again, if they are, so should you, yourself.

    I understand high standards, and a perfectionist's streak -- I think I have both, too -- but the nature of the mistakes, as well as other things like workload, deadlines, honest efforts, and the like, do matter and should be taken into consideration by everyone involved in this situation.

    One of the great things about newspapers is, tomorrow you get another chance to do things all over again. Hopefully, you'll do them better than the last time.

    I'm sure you will.
  9. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I agree. I find most of my mistakes happen when I am rushing too fast or trying to juggle too many tasks at once.

    I know you're trying. It's like a baseball player or golfer who is in a slump. Maybe simplifying things will help. And, yeah, get away from it on your off day. don't brood over it. One of the best pieces of advise I ever got was a very experienced senior editor who told me "No matter how well you do or how poorly you do, there is another day's paper coming down the pike tomorrow, so don't get too high or too low and focus on the next day's product."
  10. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    This happened to me once outside of reporting.

    It ended with a six-month marathon of awful where my boss and I tried to wait each other out to see if I would quit and lose my unemployment benefits or not. I "won" and was fired.

    So, umm, no I don't know how to pull out of it :)
  11. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Hang in there Hustle. We all go through "slumps" like this. I know, for whatever reason, that when I'm in them, I can look over my work several times. But for whatever reason, as soon as I see the same page or story after the presses run, I find a mistake immediately.
  12. JimmyOlson

    JimmyOlson Member

    To echo some of the great advice already here ...

    Slow down. Every mistake I've made in 10 years in this business has been because I've worked too fast. Every single one. Use this slump as motivation to slow down and be a little more deliberate. You'll be amazed at the results - and at how much work you're still able to get done.

    Keep it in perspective: Using the wrong format on an agate file isn't the same kind of mistake as libel. One of my best friends is a doctor. If she makes a mistake at work ... apples and oranges? Sure. But honestly, realizing that helps me keep perspective when I screw up at work.
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