Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Night Musings

Hey Guys,

Another week, come and gone and as my dinner takes its frustrating time cooking, I figured I'd steal a moment to update y'all on what's been going down in our little world. Thanks to you who could make it out to Happy Hour on Thursday-- though it was a small turnout, it was still a good time. We'll have another one soon, hopefully at a time that works more conveniently.

Getting the ball rolling, I'm pleased to announce that we can welcome Evan Henerson of the features department to our ranks. A six-year Daily Newser, he's covered everything from health to theater to awards shows, including one of the best Father's Day articles I've ever read about his son a couple years ago. Like many of us, he joined up because of family connections and the belief that it's just the right thing to do. Welcome, Evan, we're glad to have you with us and look forward to workin' with you.

Now that we've got the contract ratified, we're going to have to work hard to keep bringing in new members like Evan. There's gotta be more folks out there like him, who believe in the cause, but just haven't filled out a blue card yet for whatever reason. Keep spreading the word and encouraging people to get involved-- we're going to need as much help as we can get in coming years.

On the dues front, I'm working with both Vicki and our secretary-treasurer to find some solution so we can do some sort of an automatic deduction electronically. That seemed to be most convenient for everyone, so once we learn a little more about the particulars, I'll let you know. Hopefully, we'll have it up and running soon, so if you can indulge me another week of patience, we can get rolling with that.

In response to your concerns, I've been talking to both Melissa and Ron lately about staff levels, particularly in Sports and Features. Ron says he's looking to fill all the open positions (i.e. all the people who've recently left) and Melissa's been actively recruiting. We've been trying to streamline the posting process, as well, so as soon as someone gives notice, the ball will start rolling to advertise the job here, then open up to outside candidates. Hopefully, that'll help get those slots filled as quickly as possible to get you guys help faster.

I know things are tough right now-- they usually are, in one form or another, at the DN-- but management seems sincere about filling the gaps quickly. It'll be a strain until they do, particularly for you guys on the production side, but Melissa assures me that help's on the way. Knowing what I do of her, you can count on her to live up to her word.

Additionally, after a member raised a question about we'll have an equal crack at management positions when they come open, I did some asking around. Though that hadn't been the case in the past, I talked to Jim Janiga and he agreed that we should get word of those jobs when they're open, giving us a shot at moving up along the ladder, too. While we'll certainly miss any of you guys who make the jump to management, it's nice to know that we've got an equal shot now, too.

As the final thought for this message, I'd like to remind people that if they're frustrated with the way things are at work, they should speak up about it. There's a lot of things that happen here, and in any work place, that happen just because, well, that's how they've always been done. If you don't raise questions about it, whether it's the way your stories are edited, your photos are cropped, or your schedule, it'll probably stay that way.

This isn't a question of whining versus being dependable, either. I've found that lots of times, these problems arise simply because the folks in charge are distracted by other things and don't consider how policies will impact us all. If you bring it up politely, but firmly, they're often happy to make the changes once they're aware of the problem. And if that doesn't work, that's where we come in, to advocate change with a louder voice.

Like I said, this applies to everyone, but it's particularly important in the staffing situations. If you guys are feeling overworked (beyond the fact that we're all overworked), let your managers know. If you don't, they'll just get used to getting by with fewer people. We're all pretty talented folks, able to produce a lot of top-notch work without many resources, but we could also do a lot better if we were able to spread the work out more evenly. So if you're feeling perpetually crunched, tell your manager-- and tell us, too. The more voices they hear, the better your chance is to get them to dole out the dollars to help fix the situation.

Alright, I've chewed through plenty of your weekend time now, so I'll knock off. Keep up the good work and pat yourselves on the back-- the paper's been looking pretty damn good lately. That's because of you guys, the ones who make it happen every day.

-Brent

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