What multimedia journalists say makes a good news director

July 24, 2019 01:30

Many newsrooms are powered by multi-media journalists: solo crews who do it all. It can be a tough gig and the one-woman bands of TV news are a tight-knit groups of "MMJanes" who support and advise each other. Now, the MMJanes have some advice for news directors!

MMJane is a Facebook group created by Multimedia Journalist extraordinaire Sarah Blake Ochsner to help women support other women in the crazy world of TV journalism. One of the ways the group helps women in the business is by allowing open and honest feedback on tough topics, ranging from critiquing stories to sharing anecdotes and advice. Recently, after several colleagues were discussing where they might apply next, I started a conversation about the attributes MMJanes value in a news director. The response was overwhelming. Here are just a few things news directors should know their teams value in a boss. 

  1. Attentiveness: One MMJane said frequent feedback, whether positive or negative, is so helpful. Sometimes employees only hear from management when a ball drops, instead of when it’s picked up. It can be a learning experience to check in from time to time to make sure all aspects of performance are discussed. One Jane added - be specific!  

  1. Trustworthiness: â€¯Another Jane chimed in that she values a boss who encourages diversity and does what they say they're going to do. She says in turn, that makes employees feel valued, heard, and important! Others agreed, saying a boss who keeps their word is incredibly impactful on their job satisfaction.  

  1. Experience: This came up several times. One Jane said she is a fan of a news director having real and true field experience, not just a few days field producing. She says a leader should understand the process of news gathering away from the building, the obstacles we run into, and how to effectively put that into a television newscast. 

  1. Work-Life Balance: One Jane said she values a boss who has a life outside of the newsroom. Bosses without their own interests outside news are likely to not have a life...and therefore won’t care if you have one either. She advocates for leaders who value family time and show compassion to their employees, as well as respecting off-days. There are those employees who always say yes if asked… another Jane says don’t abuse them for their willingness to step up when others won’t.  

  1. Approachability: Several Janes want an open door, someone they can go to who will address questions about a story, an ethical quandary or even how to sharpen a story angle… without feeling shamed for asking. She added this is important especially in starter markets where new reporters are developing their news skills, habits that will stick with them for their entire career.  


2019 Research