Thursday, September 20, 2018

Too informal

There's a romantic myth that family owned businesses and mom and pop outfits are intrinsically better than chain-owned and corporate outfits. Trust me, this is not always true. The reason such businesses do well is because of better accountability and a lack of bureaucracy. But family-owned businesses can suffer badly from disorganization and nepotism.

Years ago, I was an editor for a small chain of weekly newspapers - just seven. It was run by a husband and wife team.It happened that at one time both the editor and staff writer jobs at one paper opened up at the same time.

The husband was the journalist and he interviewed and ultimately hired the two people. One day the fellow who was hired to be the reporter comes in. The wife greets him and says, "So you must be the new editor!" The fellow didn't correct her. She got his paperwork filled out and got him all proper.

Then the guy who was supposed to be the editor shows up the next day. I don't know exactly what went down, but the fellow came on board as the reporter.

I've always had a good memory, so when the publisher had mentioned the two names, I remembered which was which, but apparently the wife didn't.

As it happened, the publisher had been right in the first place. The editor who was supposed to be the reporter wasn't up to the job and the newspaper suffered. But nobody said anything. The reporter who was supposed to be the editor was a nice guy and a gentlemen and got along very well.

In the long run the paper suffered because of the wrong person in the job. A few years later and it was in bankruptcy.

A corporate-owned newspaper would have been better organized and I'm sure could have avoided such a snafu.

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I have some surplus copies of anthologies I have participated in