How should a manager lead a team of creative journalists? This is the core question of the research carried out by the Finnish journalist and editor, Laura Saarikoski in her three-term fellowship.
In her paper Herding the cats: How to lead journalists in the digital age, Laura first lays out the essential context for the new set of challenges facing editorial leaders.
In the past, journalists had the luxury of concentrating on writing a story or an article without having to worry too much about its distribution afterwards. But now digitalization and shrinking audiences mean that journalists have to try to engage their audience by crowd sourcing ideas for stories, sharing their work on social media and accepting instant feedback.
This presents new challenges to the editors. Not only do they have to lead a group of talented people not too willing to be led, but push them - and themselves - out of their old comfort zones.
Laura interviewed 15 Finnish and 11 British editors with experience in leading creative personnel in their respective departments, which are usually features (long-format narratives or in-depth analysis). She supplements this with interviews with media analysts and academics.
She then goes into details about the current changes in the media market seen from the editors' viewpoint and the challenges of leading creative journalists at the time of rapid digitalization and financial uncertainty.
Finally, she provides a really helpful guide on motivating journalists, managing digital change and on surviving yourself. This is essentially an editors' handbook, and is a must read for anyone aspiring to editorial leadership in a fast-changing media environment.'