The Work Groove

By the time you have figured out what you can and cannot wear and can get in the building without being stopped by security, you are probably settling into the work groove.


The professional world demands that you consistently show up on time and ready to work. If, by some legitimate misfortune, you find that you are going to be late, call in to the newsdesk and let your managers know what happened and when they can expect you. They will appreciate this extra effort, and it will help them arrange to cover your duties until you arrive.

Getting Organized

In a newsroom, deadlines are both continuous and simultaneous. For some people, the first hour or so on the shift is their busiest time. Because of this, you should figure out not only what needs to get to get done, but also in what order.

Taking Breaks

Many people slip out to pick something up from the cafeteria or outside world, bring it back to their desk and continue working.

If you feel you need a break, go for a walk outside. A good recess can do wonders for both your mental health and your writing and editing abilities.

Whether you are leaving to get food or air, you may need to let the newsdesk know when you are leaving the office. Watch how other people in the office handle breaks, or simply ask your editor what the policy is.

When Problems Arise

No workplace is a utopia. In any job, in any place, there are bound to be some bad days and difficult periods. Problem solving, known in corporate-speak as 'crisis management', is one of the most important skills you can learn not only for your job, but also for your life.

Crisis management is how you handle disruptive situations that challenge your basic assumptions and operating procedures.

For example, you are used to receiving a report from an outside bureau every day at noon. You use that report to write a daily roundup, which your editor expects by one p.m. The wires are down, and you can't get the report. You want to ask your boss, but he or she is tied up on the phone and you are afraid to interrupt. What should you do?

It is impossible to formulate an approach that can be applied to all problems that come up. In general, you will be responding to crises in a spontaneous and ad hoc fashion. You may ask another manager or editor what to do, or you may place a few phone calls to find out if you can get the report through another medium (such as fax or e-mail), and how long it will take.

The most important things you should do are listen to your instincts and decide how important the problem really is. There are four things you should think about when a problem arises:

1. What are the elements or dimensions of the     problem?
2. What degree of control do you have?
3. How much time do you have to make
4. How many options available to you?

When stressful moments arise, keep your cool and, whenever possible, ask your boss what you should do. She or he has probably seen this problem occur countless times before.

You should also try to keep a balanced perspective about your level of responsibility in the newsroom. Although it's easy to get caught up in your job and to feel like the entire news operation is riding on your shoulders, keep in mind that you are an intern. You will rarely be given assignments that can make-or-break the newsroom flow.

When the problem is behind you and things in the newsroom have calmed down, ask a manager how you might have handled the situation better, or what steps might have prevented the problem from occurring in the first place.


Revised 04-03-00