I am often asked by new journalists what they need to know before venturing from college into the real world. These aspiring journalists want “tips”or “secrets” to success in a newsroom.
Here’s one thing I’ve had to learn along the way that will greatly benefit you in your journey: You will not be liked by everyone in the newsroom and that is OK!
This may be hard to hear. Why would someone “not like” you? You are nice. You try to make friends. You try to be fair. The simple answer is that it may not even be your fault.
I know this will come as a shock to you, but newsrooms are FILLED with egos. There are people who have been around forever. There are young people who are trying to move up. Sometimes your simple presence as another person to compete with will cause dislike among your peers.
I have seen people judged, before even entering a newsroom, as someone who was hired for “their looks,””their race,” “their gender,” “their agent,” “their ability to speak Spanish,” “their blonde hair.” You name the gripe about a new hire, I’ve heard it. ASSUME someone will have an issue with you before you walk in the door.
This isn’t a slight against people who work in newsrooms. It is sadly human nature and the whole “being on TV” thing simply makes it a tad worse.
So what can you do about this?
1- Work hard. That’s it. Come in on day one and work your ass off. It is harder (not impossible mind you) to dislike someone who comes to work to work.
2- Smile. Smile in the hallway. Smile in the edit bay. Smile when giving a mic check. Appear to be friendly and positive. It is the old “kill ’em with kindness” method. It works…sometimes.
3- Don’t gossip. I know this is HARD. You are trying to fit in in a new newsroom and it’s often hard to find common ground other than work. It is super easy to laugh along with people who are talking about others. Resist this as much as you can. Assume whatever you are saying, or laughing about, will be passed to others in the newsroom. People who want to make you look bad, for whatever reason, will seize the opportunity.
Some people will never ever warm up to you. Some people simply have bitterness and anger they can’t seem to part with and they are blaming people like “you.” They are upset about all of the “young” hires or the “cheap” hires. They are upset about “technology changing the business” or “having to focus on social media.”
It is not personal even when it feels personal. So work hard, smile and try hard not to gossip. After that, let it go. It’s totally ok if someone doesn’t like you.