Tears And Fears

I made my 2008 editor cry today.

It wasn’t my intention and I wasn’t trying to hurt her feelings.  She wasn’t mad or angry – she was sad.  She is graduating along with several other seniors in yearbook, broadcast and web design.  I usually make a slide show each year – it consists of two parts 1) photos of my media kids doing their things in class and in the field, not to mention on field trips and 2) photos of my graduating seniors from their earliest years on staff until now usually ending with prom pics and their senior portrait.

My editor totally lost it.  I never saw it coming.

I’ve had emotional editors before.  In ’06 my co-editor cried for nearly 15 min. after the slide show was over. But I knew she was the emotional kind.  She got most of the staff to cry with her too.

But today came out of the blue.  My ’08 editor usually tries to be Ms. Tough Girl.  She’s not Marine tough, but she usually likes to be calm, cool and keep it “real.”

I also thought about this because today I watched Episode 5 of “The Paper” at MTV.com and it really reminded me of one of the worst parts of this job – DRAMA!  Not the drama class or club, but the sometimes daily drama that comes with high school kids.

I love teaching media and publications, but it seems like it is true what they say about people – put more than two of us in a room and we start taking up sides.

How can you deal with this?  Well, my way has been to try to help all party’s learn that we sometimes have to get along with people we might not like.  I also try to teach them to act like a professional.  Sometimes it takes an intervention or a meeting to air it all out.  Other times, it seems, there isn’t any way to get them to see eye to eye.  Sometimes they have to leave the publication.  It is sad when that happens and I try to keep this from happening – especially over something as dumb as drama.

It can sometimes help if you can find out what is really at the heart of the drama, but sometimes there is no real way to know.  You just have to encourage them to grow some and learn some new skills – like tolerance and professional detachment.  It is not easy.

Sometimes we have to help them through their tears and calm their fears.  It is just part of the job.