A hack quote: he whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make news editor.
Being news editor is the hardest job in the room. When I did it, it was the hardest job in the entire building.
You are the most middling of middle-men. Beneath you (hierarchically) are young reporters looking for direction, often with very little experience.
Above you crusty old reporters, often with far more experience, are looking for the slightest hint that they are being patronised. They will not react well.
Atop you is an all-powerful editor who could not care less how difficult your life is and has zero interest in hearing about the great stuff that almost worked out.
“What you got for me?” she asks.
Last week the news editor of the Mail on Sunday sent this email to the newsroom hacks.
Which somehow ended up on Media Guido (hacks leak like sieves).
James Mellor offers what Guido calls “an old fashioned bollocking memo” which begins: “The quality and quantity of stories provided by the News department this week was unacceptable and frankly embarrassing….I have apologised to the Editor..”
The reporters have been told to send an email detailing how brilliant they will be in that Sunday’s paper by 10am on Tuesday. Or else explain just why they suck so much.
As management strategies go it feels a bit old school, but let’s have sympathy for Mellor, who has got a really tough job.
My experience is that the best hackery comes from a collegiate sense that we are all in it together, even if only in mutual protection against a mean editor.
For flaks, my pleading is that if you find a hack to be rude, short-tempered and demanding, allow that they might have just received a note from the news desk telling them they are useless.