“Shining like little stars”: a Christmas wish

They say you should never read below the line when it comes to news websites.

That you should avert your eyes from the outpourings of the commentariat, the trolls and the back-in-my-days.

It’s a rule that I normally follow.

But I’m always drawn to the comments under stories on the media news site Hold the Front Page.

Some of them are entirely predictable, depressing and accurate in equal measure within that.

Many are from former journalists who have now left the profession but who either can’t let go, or who still genuinely care about decent journalism.

A common theme among them is that there is life beyond the newsroom, that work-life balances can be reset and workloads reduced.

The suggestion is that other industries might look after their troops better than the media business.

But do they?

I was heartened by a lovely blog on Hold the Front Page this morning from award-winning Wolverhampton College lecturer Sue Green, who writes in glowing terms about the satisfaction she feels at the success of her BBC apprentices.

That feeling is heightened because some of the youngsters she took on had effectively been thrown on the scrapheap by other industries, or at earlier stages in their education.

Sue’s message to them was that they should “shine like little stars in the sky”.

And it seems to have worked.

Among the trainee journalists I’ve mentored was one who had been shouted at in every other job they’d done, and who arrived with self-esteem shattered.

Others have come to journalism fed up with the bureaucracy of teaching or the tedium of retail.

Of course, they find new challenges and frustrations in our industry.

But when I talk to friends and family who work in the other sectors of ‘civilian’ life, I shudder at some of the cack-handed management out there.

And, like Sue, I am determined to prove that media businesses can be serious about people development.

Wouldn’t it be great if our newsrooms also shone like little stars when it came to training and development, to treating people with sensitivity and dignity, and to fostering the heady mix of autonomy and team spirit that is the key to success?

Talking of stars, Happy Christmas.



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