Now What?! 3 Tips for Fighting Post-Election Newsroom Lethargy

You’ve made it through one of the most grueling election cycles in recent history! What are you gonna do now?!

You’re relieved it’s over – we all are – but you may feel a bit disoriented too.

After all, you’ve just finished a huge project that’s occupied a great deal of your time, energy, and focus over the past year. No doubt there’s plenty of follow-up coverage to do, but the big push is over. You’re tired, a little burned out, and not quite sure what to do next, right?

If so, here are some tips for fighting those post-election doldrums:

1. Take a Break! And Give Your Staff One Too.

Journalists need a chance to rest and recharge after this hard slog. News directors and editors, this means you too! 

election-2016-meme-2
I made this meme for all my friends in the trenches of election night coverage.

As I’ve said before, real vacations are absolutely crucial for long-term productivity and burnout prevention.

2. Have a Debrief Party

I know what you’re thinking. You want to leave election coverage behind and never think about it again, right?

But you put so much effort into it! Don’t let the opportunity slip away to learn some lessons for next time. (Yes, there will be a next time.)

If an election debrief sounds like kind of a drag, forget the stodgy brown bag lunch, and get together at someone’s house or maybe a restaurant – yes, on work time. Celebrate your good work, and have a genuine conversation about how things went.

Here are a few questions to kick things off:

  • What were the very best things we did – things we want to do again next election?
  • What went really badly? Why? Are they worth trying to change, or should we dump them?
  • What was surprising? Good and bad surprises are welcome here. How did we react to them?
  • What didn’t we do that we wish we had?
  • How did our coverage compare to other news organizations in our area?

Remember to look at your missteps as useful data points rather than failures. And despite the casual nature of the event I’m suggesting, do make sure someone writes down the revelations that come out of it.

3. Look to the Future

You know all those projects you’ve put on hold? Those things you’ve said you can’t possibly do until after the election?  Well, now is the time!

If you’re like my clients, some of those things might include …

  • making a breaking news / crisis coverage plan (everyone’s favorite procrastination target)
  • revisiting reporting beats and geographic focus areas
  • examining news staff structure and communication
  • long-term strategic planning (although kudos to the news staff at WKSU for asking me to lead a news planning retreat two weeks before the election!)
wksu-retreat-2016
WKSU news staff planning retreat, October 29, 2016

Bottom line: it’s easy to lose focus after a big project, especially with the holidays right around the corner. But don’t cede the next two months to election jetlag.

Dust off your plans and goals and hopes for the future, and, dare I say, make your newsrooms great again!

judithsmelser.com

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Now What?! 3 Tips for Fighting Post-Election Newsroom Lethargy

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