Finishing up

As I write this, we have nine papers left this semester.

This is also my last required blog post for my online media class, so I probably won’t be writing again until it’s over and I have my summary judgment.

So, here’s a list of the things I learned that I didn’t expect to:

  • The daily beatdown will get you every time. The daily wear-and-tear is something you don’t really take into account when you get into a job like managing editor. I had this huge vision for what I wanted to accomplish and the things I wanted to improve, but in the end, I was hampered by my daily duties at the paper — like putting together the calendar or doing payroll. That’s not to say that I didn’t accomplish any of those lofty goals, but the everyday struggle made it many times more difficult than I anticipated.
  • If there’s a recurring problem, it will probably happen again. Call it hubris, but I had always attributed the Alligator’s minimal staff to management just not trying hard enough to keep a full staff at the paper. After feeling like I was running repeatedly into a brick wall with that problem, I don’t think that anymore. I only have theories on why we can’t keep a full staff — the economy, the state of the industry, lack of incentives — but none of them include management not caring. One of my top priorities going into this job was having a full staff, and it was one I didn’t achieve. Maybe there is a way to get out of the cycle, but the problem was more deep-rooted than I had ever imagined. Falling back into that cycle of being shortstaffed was one of my greatest disappointments this semester.
  • I don’t want to be a manager again for about 20 years. I think I’ve done a reasonably good job as managing editor, but I’m ready to go back to being a peon. It’s so much harder to take care of 20 other people’s concerns and put out a good project. Sitting in class for half an hour today, I got text messages from four people about Alligator-related issues. The work of a manager is never done. I’ve had a good run, and it was fun while it lasted, but I feel like I was playing at being 45. I’m ready to go back to being 21.

Also, reading the post about editing student newspapers that Meranda Watling wrote in response to me starting this blog, I feel like I understand her feelings now in a way I didn’t at the beginning of this semester. In particular, this sentence stands out to me:

I remember making mistakes that decades of other students had made before me, and I’ve since seen people make mistakes I made.

In a way, it’s comforting to know that I’m part of a cycle. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, and the managing editors after me will, too. But maybe — and I’m holding out hope for this one — they can learn from the mistakes I’ve made.

If that happens, even in a small way, I’ll feel like what I’ve done here has been a success.

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2 Comments

Filed under Editing, Managing

2 responses to “Finishing up

  1. Amen to the return of the peon! After being ME for two semesters, I still don’t want to boss people around for a good while. And if you’re the right kind of peon, sometimes you can accomplish more that way.

  2. matt boedy

    I read your last post and am one of the alumni who tried to send some suggestions. I am sorry some didn’t work and please don’t think I thought – hell they probably think about this. But I do understand your position about caring about the paper but can’t “care” anymore. I don’t have an easy solution to burn out, to fears about the future, to really anything – and I think that may be the best advice. I wonder what you will be doing when not at the paper – classes and papers but I don’t buy that argument – unless of course you are majoring in something other than journalism. All your class work can be Alligator work. Surely perhaps your burn out has affected how others below you see the prospect of having your job, but in the end, what are you going to do with your time? No one cares about GPA in an interview. They care about skills and clips. Unless of course are you are heading into grad school. Anyway I hope I don’t sound harsh or rude, but a blog is for comments.

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