Blogs » The Daily Commute » Working in a no-email newsroom


Have you ever been told you can't do something, but the more you try to follow those directions, the more you do what you are told you can't?

This week the Advocate newsroom is doing a no email week. This came about during an editor’s retreat last week when editors mentioned that staff members feel we email too much and are not talking directly to one another.

As an exercise to get back to talking, we have banned emails among the newsroom staff for the week. Don't worry – we still respond to our readers who send us messages.

In the newsroom, we have to communicate the old fashioned way – in person by actually talking to one another.

Monday was really difficult for me because I had so many messages to pass on to people who were on their day off or out of the office on assignment.

I caught myself starting emails and two words into the message I was clicking the delete button and writing notes to myself to talk to people. I filled a page on a legal pad with notes on Monday.

I even put a sticky note on one reporter's desk with a message to talk to me about a story – of course when she had time to talk, I was in a meeting. We eventually connected.

Today was worse as stories came up I wanted to simply forward them to a reporter with a note about what we needed, but instead I forwarded the information and made notes to myself to talk to the reporters when they returned to the office.

This evening I was communicated with an editor who had left for the day by text about changes in the story line up. It would have been easier to type an email on my computer instead of the text messages on the small iPhone keyboard, but I made it without too many incorrect auto-correct words appearing.

I use email so much in my everyday work. I pass on information received from readers to reporters. I communicate story tips and even notes on who to talk to for a story. I give out general assignments to groups. I send notes asking for story updates and offering praise.

It is a convenience as opposed to not wanting to talk to reporters, editors and designers.

We work varying shifts and usually what I am working on at 9 a.m. slips my mind by the time the night staff comes in. It is more convenient to send a note to a group when I am working on the topic and ask them to talk to me when they come in than it is to try to reach the entire group and tell them the same information in person. I will inevitably forget to tell something to someone.

Even with emails, I talk to people daily. I like talking to people, but sometime emails are more convenient and quicker in getting the message out.

I am finishing up Day 2 of this experiment. I want to succeed, but I have a feeling I will experience a lot of almost-sent emails before we get to the week’s end.

Stay turned – I will try to update the experiment as the week progresses.