Monday, July 14, 2008

When Life Is But A Framed Picture

So us reporting interns got a second managing editor at our Philly newspaper this week. If first impressions are all they're cracked up to be, then this guy has got a pretty big ego. What's the tip-off? His framed certificate for best AP reporting in the state.

Now, in all fairness, this is certainly a recognition of efforts that is something to be proud of. However, I think it's more than a bit much when on your first day at a new job, you carry the framed certificate with you into the conference room where you're meeting the reporters - who would ideally respect you for your work and not your accolades - who you'll be working with. It also seems odd when that same framed certificate finds a permanent home on that editor's desk, right next to the computer, exactly as if it were a framed photograph of his family or kids.

This seems counterproductive to me, even after I take a moment to try and give him the benefit of the doubt. He appears to be a good person, and seems to want recognition and respect, extending his pride and joy simultaneously with the first handshake. Yet respect comes not with titles and awards, but with mutual effort and a strong [in this case, work] relationship. Seemingly identifying himself so conspicuously with his material accolades kind of sabotages, or at least makes more difficult, a clear understanding and mutual respect between editor and reporter.

On top of that, he seems to be big on cutting large portions of our stories in favor of succinctness because "it's AP style." This is in contrast to the other managing editor's approach, which is straightforward and concise without infringing on the reporter's style and voice. He actually explains his thought process behind the edit and the explanation is more rooted in readability and clarity than a book of rules.

What do you guys think? Perhaps some perspective will help.


Contagious said...

Fear not young reporter. Do like I do. Bring all your awards to your cubicle. My cubicles have prominently displayed a crudely colored award from second grade from my chorus teacher Miss Kriz (Miss was pronounced more like mizz for the rhyming factor) saying that I'm "Maaaarvelous." I also adorn my cube with other art/awards like best neighbor award from 5th grade. This guy can't beat that.

I understand being proud of your prior accomplishments but you need to temper it so you can fit through the doorways.

No one ever likes a braggart.

My advice: pepper him with questions about the award, "so, what was it like when you won? That's some honor. Could you help me? I'd love to one day have that honor." If you do it right, they don't know you are mocking them.

K-Rock said...

I say give it time. I know you might not be there much longer, but I suspect that he is a bit insecure being the new guy (even if he is the boss, perhaps more so). In a couple weeks, I think the ├╝ber-ego might calm down. As for style, I would just voice that opinion if you communicate one-on-one at all. Let him know why your writing is the way it is. You can't keep him from editing the way he knows, but it's worth a shot, I think!