I’ve said this before, but to prove my point, I’ll say it again — the Mustang Daily staff spends a lot of time together.
Whether it be in the newsroom, at The Ave or just exchanging emails and texts on a daily basis, we are in constant communication. I don’t even talk to some of my best friends as much as I do to the staff, and we go back to the seventh grade. But being in such close communication has its downfalls too. The harsh reality is that not everyone gets along, and we definitely don’t always see eye-to-eye with decisions made around the newsroom.
I’m not saying the staff doesn’t get along, because we do, for the most part. But when it comes down to those last few minutes of copy editing or redesigning layout, there are bound to be disagreements and stress-induced eye rolling. Even when there are mistakes in the paper or online, there is a palpable tension that fills the newsroom.
In my opinion, one way to prevent, or at least lessen, the tension is to bond as a staff and create relationships amongst the staff that will lead to more accountability.
The newsroom is really a kind of assembly line, where each step depends on the previous step being completed in a timely fashion and done well. If a reporter doesn’t turn a story in, the editor can’t design a page, the copy editor doesn’t have copy to read and what’s left is a hole in the process. If people feel like they are letting down a “friend” when they miss deadline as opposed to just an annoying boss, then people are more likely to make that extra effort to do better.
So, in order to create those loving bonds, we have been making an extra effort to hang out together outside of the stressful work environment, and just be college kids together.
Take last Monday, which happened to also be Halloween, for example.
The EIC and I had just returned from the ACP/CMA conference in Orlando the day before, and you could tell by the lack of Halloween spirit around the newsroom that it was difficult to be sitting in our desks while trick-or-treaters were having the times of their lives. That’s when a marketing ploy from Chipotle saved the day.
In the past on Halloween, if you dress up like a burrito then you get a free burrito from Chipotle. This year, the requirement was to dress up as a family farm-inspired costume to get any item on the menu for $2. Once the staff got word of the possibility to go after work, there was not stopping them. Everything from copy editing to design work was finished early throughout the day, and pig costumes were fashioned by Google images and paper toward the end of the night. I chose, however, to dress up as a mustang — appropriate, right?
By 9 p.m., we were all joking and enjoying our late-night Chipotle meals. Yes, this was a fun, but more importantly, we learned that we work well as a team. We communicated well and spent our breaks throughout the day working, and the productivity showed. Do I expect this to happen every day? Absolutely not, but it is nice to know we can get things done, and done right, when we work together. The sense of accomplishment, and laughing at each others attempts at animal costumes, made the Chipotle that much tastier.
Hopefully, taking our crazy antics out of the newsroom and into the real world will happen more often. It can only lead to a more cohesive staff, and ultimately, a better overall Mustang Daily.