I used to say that all newsroom were the same -- same problems, same cast of characters with different names in each city room. I was wrong. The Post-Gazette is so different. Is it perfect? No. But most days it's pretty darn close.
I don't like to bash previous employers -- and, honestly, there's little room for bashing because I've been treated well on my career path, but The Post-Gazette is different than any other place I've worked.
One place I worked was extremely competitive. Reporters fought for the best stories and the best play. It's good to do that to an extent. If you're not going to advocate for yourself, you may as well give up. But at this newsroom it was extreme. At the Post-Gazette, the attitude is different. Everyone wants to get the best work in the paper even if it is under someone else's byline. Co-workers have always been willing to help me without expecting anything in return.
Another place I worked beat me down at every turn. Any mistake I made I got hauled to "the blue room," which was a space with couches (blue ones), where we went to get bitched out for making factual errors. Now, I take a factual error as seriously as anyone I know. Errors of fact -- even over something small, such as using "avenue" instead of "street" -- affect overall credibility. There was nothing the editors at this paper could say that would make me try any harder or feel any worse than I already did about an error. Instead, it made me afraid to write. The less I wrote, the less chance there would be for an error. The Post-Gazette is not like this. Surely, editors take errors seriously, but they know and expect that reporters do, too. When we make a mistake, we fix it, figure out what caused it and move on. Editors take as much blame as reporters. The first time I had a correction in The Post-Gazette I expected some kind of admonishment. Instead, my editor actually apologized to me and said that HE should have caught the error. He took the blame. That seemed crazy to me. But at The Post-Gazette, we share responsibility and accountability -- both for successes and failures. We are a team.
So ... what inspired this entry? I messed up on Friday. I thought I had sent a breaking news story to our Web editors, but it turns out I'd never sent it. Of course, we got scooped by every other outlet. As soon as I realized it, I sent the story but we were behind everybody else on a story we should have owned. A few minutes later I got an e-mail message from my editor. It started "Hey Tracie -- I know you've been running around like crazy the last few weeks covering this trial ..." Well,I fully expected the next phrase to be "but you can't screw up and forget to send things to the Web." Instead it said "so if you want to take some time off that's fine."