Welcome introverts to your newsroom

As a modern student media leader, you’re much more enlightened than the college dean who said in the early 1950s:

“… we find that the best man is the one who’s had an 80 or 85 average in school and plenty of extra-curricular activities. We see little use for the ‘brilliant introvert.'”

–from “The Organization Man” by William Whyte,  quoted in “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain

Sixty years later, you know “the best man” might even be a woman! And you wouldn’t turn away a “brilliant introvert.”

Wait. Are you sure?

Would you describe your newsroom as quiet and introspective or brash and extroverted? How about you? You may consider yourself an introvert and still adopt the brash journalism stereotype in the newsroom.

True story:  At a large journalism convention one summer, I represented a large media company. A young man sat down at my table in the huge exhibit hall, and we had a nice chat. After he left, a nearby recruiter said (to the best of my recollection), “He was way too quiet. He’s going to have to be a lot more assertive than that if he wants a job.”

I thought that was an unenlightened attitude for a professional journalism recruiter, and I think it’s even dumber if you’re a leader in a college media newsroom.

In  “Quiet,” the bestseller I quoted above, Susan Cain says introverts generally like to listen and learn before speaking and are more comfortable expressing themselves in writing. Hmm, a student who thinks carefully and likes to write? Would you value such a person in your newsroom?

You could call this “personality diversity.” I think it’s important to other diversity issues as well. If you look for only a certain personality, you make it that much harder to relate to prospects of a different gender, race, age and/or life history.

It may be even wilder than usual in your newsroom for the next few weeks as operations crank up. Extroverts won’t have any trouble stepping into that atmosphere to ask about joining the staff. If you want the best possible newsroom, you’ll make time to welcome the introverts, too.


About adviserdavid

Student media director, Georgia Southern University

Posted on August 20, 2012, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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