We are coming up on the “season of change” for managers. Changes are often made after May sweeps, so there’s time to get a new person in place before the fall. A new manager means new opportunity and possibly a new pitfall. Often people only worry about an ND change. An AND or EP change can make as much of a difference in your future. Do not underestimate their say in having you on a particular shift or having a job at all. You need to make a good first impression.
So what does an assistant news director consider when coming to a new newsroom? This person wants to make a mark. Understand that AND’s run the day-to-day operations. They are looking for people who will work with them to make changes. This is a delicate dance, because you don’t want to alienate the ND if the AND decides to buck the current system too much. You don’t want to end up in the middle of a political mess. Focus on working hard and avoiding answering questions about why the place runs the way it does. You do not know the AND’s agenda yet. You do not want the AND to walk into a meeting and say these changes will happen and you told him/her the changes are justified because the place is poorly run. Yes, this can and does actually happen. I’ve seen it more than once. Be agreeable. Read “The 3 B’s to win over your ND” and keep those points in mind when dealing with a new AND as well.
Now let’s talk about EP changes. Again, these people are trying to make a mark. You want to be agreeable and willing to work hard. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the group that tries to haze the new EP. This especially happens in mid to large markets. I watched it time and again. Hazing the new EP is not smart. I don’t care if you feel the person is clueless. Remember, this person still has a say in your reviews. This person can still move up in the company and blacklist you. (Yes, that really happens too.) Stay out of the politics. On the other hand, you also do not want to be the EP’s doormat. Say no to the EP sometimes so you don’t end up getting extra piles of work when the EP becomes swamped. Again, look over “ The 3 B’s” and follow a lot of that advice. You want to be a go getter and eager to do your job. But stay out of the politics.
Final thoughts on these new managers: Once they have time to settle down, sit down with them fairly regularly and pick their brains on the news biz as a whole. You can gain great insight on what they’ve seen and done. Both AND’s and EP’s do more training and critiquing of your work than the ND usually does. Asking for an occasional critique is a great way to continue to advance your skills. It also is a great way to form an alliance while keeping yourself out of the politics in your newsroom. View these new managers as a new opportunity to broaden your skills. Work hard for them and, you never know, they may take you along when they rise higher in the biz.