What They're Like
A recent report on the state of middle management published by the Northwestern University Media Management Center surveyed more than 500 staffers at 19 papers across the country. Some of the findings:
The traits of the worst middle managers? Being disorganized or poor planners, newsroom staffers at all levels say. Reporters and middle managers themselves also cited communicating poorly and being inflexible among the major problems. Top editors faulted them for failing to take responsibility.
In addition to possessing the technical skills to do the job, effective middle managers should have good people skills, be good communicators and good listeners, newsroom employees at all levels said.
Middle managers got higher marks on their "professional/journalism" skills, lower marks on personnel management skills, including coaching, feedback and clarity of vision.
Top editors said the biggest obstacle for their middle managers was too much work. The second was too little training.
Only a quarter (at mid-size and large papers) to a third (at small papers) of middle managers surveyed thought there was sufficient training at their papers.
Source: "Caught In the Middle: How To Improve the Lives and Performance of Newspaper Middle Managers," by Sharon Peters