Editors Told to Take Time for Themselves

Trif Alatzas tells editors to draw lines between home and work.
Photo by Eric Pritchett

Nurturing future newsroom leaders means present-day stalwarts should lead by example and not work around-the-clock, according to panelists Monday at the News Leaders Association Conference.

In “Evolution of the Modern Editor,” journalists talked about making business-related decisions to better leadership of middle management ranks. Moderated by Mitch Pugh, executive editor of The Post and Courier, the talk featured Trif Alatzas, publisher and editor in chief of The Baltimore Sun, Michael Anastasi, regional editor for Tennessee and Florida at the USA Today Network, and Jill Jorden Spitz, editor at the Arizona Daily Star.

“If [reporters and editors] are not in the newsroom all the time, I think that’s great, as long as their doing the work that their supposed to be doing, and I think that won’t happen unless [editors] are modeling it,” Spitz said.

Spitz said this subject was a “huge issue” for her because she almost didn’t apply for her current job because the person who worked in the position before her spent all her time in her office. The outgoing editor told her there was no reason for her to do so.

Jill Jorden Spitz says she noticed moms cut back or quit after having a child. She says it is possible to be a mom and an editor and sticks to a schedule to cater to both responsibilities.
Photo by Eric Pritchett

She said she manages her time by coming in early to work, leaving around 4 to 5 p.m. to pick up her children from school, then work from home later, if necessary.

“I think if we believe it, we have to live it,” Spitz said.

Alatzas gave an example of how he had a lot of conversations with his metro editor to ensure she didn’t burn out.

He said she made it her “mission” to leave two days a week at 5 p.m to pick up her son from daycare.

“We all supported that and it really worked,” Alatzas said, adding he later saw some of the editor’s managers doing the same thing.

The speakers at the panel also gave advice for reporters who wish to take on the role of an editor down the line.

“I think about it a lot because you can have a great impact as a reporter, but you can have a larger impact as a manager, but you’ve got to want to do it and it’s not for everybody,” Alatzas said. “I think being honest and having those conversations yourself is the way to make it work.”

When it comes to bringing reporters on the editorial path, Spitz said she looks for people who are “naturally coming up with ideas and not just bringing problems, but bringing solutions too.”

“This is a great time for someone who is entrepreneurial, who is open to new ways of thinking and who wants to figure this out,” she said.

Anastasi said reporters should want the job of an editor adding “at the end of the day, that’s why people got into this business — to make the world a better place.”

“That sounds corny, but I still believe in that as passionately as I did 30 years ago.”

Rohith Rao is a senior journalism major at Ball State University. Contact Rohith Rao with comments or questions at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.

Photographer, Eric Pritchett is a senior at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, majoring in Photojournalism and minoring in scuba. He graduates in December 2019 and can be reached at empritchett@bsu.edu or on his website http://ericpritchett.com/


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