By Greg Braxton
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — The business of journalism is such a relentless beast filled with deadlines and constant pressure that it can have a negative, even stifling impact effect on creativity and attitude.
In a session spiced with good humor and energy during the Society of Features Journalism conference, senior Poynter Institute faculty member Jill Geisler, who specializes in leadership and management, spoke on how to nurture creativity with newsrooms, and how to heighten it without sacrificing the demands of producing news.
“We’re often so tied up on the product,” said Geisler in an address that was mainly geared to editors. “We have to be as good at growing and nurturing people as we are about the product … you want your most creative people to be engaged in the workplace.”
She provoked laughter among the attendees when she said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun,” noting that “play” is important to people who are creative.
“Set up a climate where playfulness can or can’t happen with creative people,” said Geisler, who also said that editors should not be reluctant to use “tough love” when necessary.
Geisler provided several tips, including leading “with Feedback Glasses,” instructing editors to have continued meaningful interaction with their reporters and staff so that there is an understanding of mutual goals, which will fuel motivation between both parties.
She also said, “Don’t Be An Idea Killer,” encouraging brainstorming that asks for quality and creativity, not perfection. Nurturing fun, positive moods and inspiration will help improve performance and morale, she said.
“Feedback influences motivation,” Geisler said.
She also encouraged editors to recognize when staffers or reporters who might feel more reluctant when working in a group environment might feel more creative and free to express themselves when they are allowed to develop their ideas under more isolated circumstances.
Greg Braxton is a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. He is one of the 2013 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows.