Jill Geisler

Jill helps news managers learn how to lead her favorite people in the world - journalists. Good journalists, she points out, question authority and resist "spin." It takes exceptional leaders to build trust, along with the systems and culture that grow great journalism. In addition to teaching leadership styles, conflict resolution, collaboration, coaching, decision making and problem solving, she also teaches in the area of ethics and broadcast journalism. Her background as a TV news director, reporter, anchor and producer inform her teaching on broadcast issues as well as her work with print and online leaders.


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How to manage a ‘newsroom star’ and keep everyone happy

This is the core message of my teaching: The most important things leaders do is help other people succeed.

So what happens when they indeed succeed, and in a really big way? What’s your responsibility when a member of your team builds a massive fan base, wins coveted awards, or rakes in high revenues for your organization?

Congratulations, You get to manage a star – with all the joys and challenges that accompany that responsibility.

I hope I haven’t frightened you.

Not all stars are problematic, although recent high profile management/star conflicts (Jian Ghomeshi, Bill Simmons, Don Surber) might leave that impression.

How stars wield the clout born of their contributions determines whether they’re what I call “low maintenance” or “high maintenance.”

Low maintenance stars are collegial, productive, interested in the organization as well as themselves, and committed to core values including integrity and quality. Read more

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Listening

Be a Better Listener in 3 Minutes

I work with managers and non-managers alike who want to become better at listening. I’ve read books on it, written columns, and teach sessions on the essentials of the skill.

And then I met journalist E. S. Isaac of India and got a better education on what it means to truly listen.

During a dinner conversation before a week-long leadership seminar at Poynter, Isaac shared his insights. He grew up in rural Chhattisgarh, in Central India. His parents were illiterate. But his father, Benbarisi Isaac, was his best teacher.

I found what E. S. Isaac said — and how he said it — to be so meaningful that I asked his permission to record and share his thoughts.

I think this will be the best three minutes you spend today.

Who is this wise man?

Isaac oversees Doordarshan Television’s international channel DDIndia.  He manages the sports programming on DDSports, reaching 143 countries across the world. Read more

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Businesswoman stressed out

Overworked and overwhelmed? Consider these 7 questions

If you’re feeling swamped at work these days, you’re not alone. I’m not talking “I don’t get to go out for lunch very often” busy. I mean “I’m buried in work, never fully off the clock and still feel I’m letting people down” busy. I hear it regularly from the managers I teach and coach.

It’s a function of the downsized staffing but increased demands and responsibilities in changing organizations.

The story is familiar: to hit budget numbers, the company cuts head count but leaves fully intact the expectation of quality, service and measurable results. (I’ll give CNN president Jeff Zucker credit. Referencing the depressing specter of buyouts and layoffs, he didn’t try to spin it as some great opportunity for the survivors to work smarter, not harder. He said “We are going to do less and have to do it with less.”)

Businesswoman stressed out

But what about those who are doing so much, perhaps too much, these days?  Read more

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covering an event with a video camera

What breaking news reveals about your newsroom culture

Here’s what a lifetime in journalism has taught me: Breaking news reveals the true character of a newsroom’s culture and quality.

Spot news success happens in cultures with specific systems, skills, values, mindsets – and leadership.

In the healthiest cultures, when news breaks, here’s what staffers can count on:

  • We have a plan. We don’t have to scramble to figure out how to respond each time a big story breaks. Everyone on our team has an understanding of the key roles that need to be filled – both in the field and at the mother ship. We automatically call in and report for duty. We adapt the basic plan by situation and story, and we’re never caught flat-footed.
  • It doesn’t matter if our boss is on vacation. Deputies and team members are capable of making tough decisions and deploying resources because our leader routinely shares information and power. (No one has to say, “What would the boss do?” We know what WE should do.) We know who’s in charge and we know we’re all responsible.
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Notes from Ferguson: ‘Don’t feel intimidated by the national/international press’

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Since Saturday, local media in St. Louis have covered the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. National media joined them, and on Friday, the story made the front pages of newspapers in the U.S. and around the world. We checked in with several newsroom leaders and asked them the same questions about their work, the competition and the best and worst of what they’ve seen. This is part six in our series.

Chad Garrison is the editor of the Riverfront Times. He answered these questions via email.

1. What is the most important thing you’ve told your staff as they cover this story?

I’ve tried to encourage them to get out there and report the story. Don’t feel intimidated by the national/international press and don’t feel that this story is somehow beyond the scope of a tiny newsroom (three full-time news reporters) like ours. We were on this story from the beginning and people are recognizing our ability to fully and accurately report the story. Read more

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Notes from Ferguson: ‘You just have to wonder if people looking to make a point saw the coverage and decided to jump in’

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Since Saturday, local media in St. Louis have covered the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. National media joined them, and on Friday, the story made the front pages of newspapers in the U.S. and around the world. We checked in with several newsroom leaders and asked them the same five questions about their work, the competition and the best and worst of what they’ve seen. This is part five in our series.

Brian Thouvenot is the news director of KMOV-TV. He answered questions for Poynter via email.

1. What is the most important thing you’ve told your staff as they cover this story?

Safety is their FIRST priority! During the riots/looting on Sunday night, rocks were thrown through the windows of one of our live trucks and it gives you pause that we’re not safe where we’re documenting a major breaking event in our community. So, I instructed crews that if they felt unsafe, they need to clear the area and we’ll figure out our next move. Read more

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Notes from Ferguson: The city has ‘never seen such glare of the national media’

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Notes from Ferguson: ‘Let the story tell itself’

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stlpub

Notes from Ferguson: ‘This is more than a big story. This is home’

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Since Saturday, local media in St. Louis have covered the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. National media joined them, and on Friday, the story made the front pages of newspapers in the U.S. and around the world. We checked in with several newsroom leaders and asked them the same five questions about their work, the competition and the best and worst of what they’ve seen. This is part two in our series.

Margaret Wolf Freivogel is the editor of St. Louis Public Radio.

1. What is the most important thing you’ve told your staff as they cover this story?

Be safe. Facts matter, especially in a fast-moving situation such as this, so let’s clarify what’s going on. We need to do more than just covering the breaking news, meaning we need enterprise reporting that unearths information, answers questions and adds understanding.

2. Give us an example of the best coverage you’ve produced or seen. Read more

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sierra.nixon

Notes from Ferguson: ‘I get it, but everybody overdid the jailed journalist story’

Since Saturday, local media in St. Louis have covered the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. National media joined them, and on Friday, the story made the front pages of newspapers in the U.S. and around the world. We checked in with several newsroom leaders and asked them the same five questions about their work, the competition and the best and worst of what they’ve seen.

Chris King is the editorial director of the The St. Louis American, St. Louis’ historically black newspaper. He answered these questions via email.

1. What is the most important thing you’ve told your staff as they cover this story?

Come back alive. We want you — and your story. Protect yourself.

2. Give us an example of the best coverage you’ve produced or seen.

I am attaching a photo Lawrence Bryant shot for us today of Sierra Smith, resident of Canfield Green apartments where Michael Brown was shot, telling Gov. Read more

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