…And not just because we want them to. Here’s some stuff I put together for a meeting last week in Washington, DC. It’s oriented a bit toward newsroom managers. According to research on newsroom change:
- One of the most consistent findings across studies is that journalists often resist, either directly or passively, changes they perceive to be in discord with core values. Researchers have found that these principles are deeply tied to the personal and professional identities of journalists and organizations, and are strongly and continuously reinforced in journalism schools and on the job.
- Organizations of all kinds that adapt to a changing environment by building on existing strengths and values are often the most successful. Change is always difficult and will be resisted in a number of ways; changing core values (even if you wanted to) is much more difficult than changing processes or behaviors.
- Journalists are trained skeptics and often believe, unless a case is strongly made and evidence presented otherwise, that changes are being made not to increase the quality of their journalism, but to improve the bottom line in ways that may conflict with core values.Suspicion about your “real” motivation for change can be your worst enemy. People will look for gaps between what you say as a leader and what you do, especially what kinds of behavior you explicitly reward and pay attention to.
- Connecting change to long-term goals is an important part of motivating staffers. The aforementioned skepticism is a core skill of good reporting and editing and often makes journalists particularly suspicious of leaders who say change is needed but don’t seem clear as to what the ultimate results will be.
- Although it is, again, difficult to generalize, scholars have found that good leadership is often characterized by the following factors: open and honest communication about both the positive and negative aspects of change, a clear vision and specific goals and, perhaps most importantly, congruence between rhetoric and reality and a genuine concern for employees’ needs.
Where did I get this from? See below. If you want to see these references properly footnoted, holler and I’ll email them to you…the formatting is haywire when I try to post it to the blog. (I’m still learning this whole blog thing, so I might be missing something obvious.)
Daniels, G.L., and Hollifield.C.A. (2002). Time of Turmoil: Short- and Long-Term Effects of Organizational Change on Newsroom Employees, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 79 (Autumn 2002): 661-680.
Gade, P. J. (2004). Newspapers and Organizational Development: Management and Journalist Perceptions of Newsroom Cultural Change. In Journalism & Communication Monographs (Vol. 6, pp. 3-55): Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication.
Gade, P.J. and Perry, E.L. (2003). Changing the Newsroom Culture: A Four-Year Case Study of Organizational Development at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 80 (Summer): 327-347.
Hansen, K. A., & Neuzil, M. (1998). Newsroom topic teams: Journalists’ assessments of effects on news routines and newspaper quality. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 803-821.
Kets de Vries, M. (2001). The Leadership Mystique: A User’s Manual for the Human Enterprise. New York: Prentice Hall.
Killebrew, K. C. (2003). Culture, Creativity and Convergence: Managing Journalists in a Changing Information Workplace. JMM: The International Journal on Media Management, 5(1), 39-46; Schein, (2004).
Schein, E. H. (2004). Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Schudson, M. (2001). The objectivity norm in American Journalism. Journalism, 2(2), 149-170
Singer, J. B. (2004). More than ink-stained wretches: The resocialization of print journalists in converged newsrooms. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 81(4), 838-856,
Zelizer, B. (2004). Taking Journalism Seriously: News and the academy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.