Dean Baquet said it was "nuts" to elegize "'the city editor who changed my life because he was really nasty to me for six months and it made me a better person.'" I noted earlier today that John Robinson had recently tweeted some wisdom about the peculiar devotion some journalists have for tough editors, but I was curious what Jill Geisler, who directs Poynter's management and leadership training programs, thought about J. Jonah Jameson types.
Geisler recently wrote about what a good management style looks like, and talked about the "bad old days" when "bosses could be behave like tyrants" as long as their team "cranked out some good work."
She didn't dwell on those days in the piece, though, so I put it to her: Why do so many journalists think fondly of jerks? Here's what she wrote back:
The fond remembrances are very likely the result of several things:
1. It’s all seen through the rear view mirror. Those who are fondly recalling their super-tough, idiosyncratic bosses are proud of their survival, just like those who make it through fraternity or sorority hazing. They put greater emphasis on the positive outcome and tell war stories about the hardship. There’s a “coolness” factor to telling those “I was one of Mr. or Ms. X’s crew — what a wild ride that was. If you made it there, you know you had what it takes."