Wick Communications

Promote mediocrity today!

In journalism on 2 Dec 2011 at 9:42 am

Former Orlando Sentinel writer and editor Sean Holton died this week following years of living with brain cancer. He wrote a rather amazing blog about those experiences, which you can read here (Holton wrote that the blog chronicles how “Sean Holton learned to stop worrying and just have brain cancer instead.)

I did not know Holton, but had seen his “half-assed guide” years earlier for some reason. It must have passed around the Florida journalism circles. I was alerted to it again by reading journalism professor Kathryn Quigley’s blog, Random Reality.

So I present, without receiving anyone’s permission to do so, Sean Holton’s Half-Assed Guide to Mediocrity. I don’t think I have to mention that his goal was to promote something better.

(Version 3.0: Release date, Jan. 6, 2003)

40 ways to promote mediocrity

1. Don’t care.

2. Don’t try.

3. Be negative.

4. Tolerate mediocrity in others.

5. Rationalize mediocrity in yourself and others.

6. Hide out in your job.

7. Build up a small piece of your job into more than it is, and hide behind that. …

8. Be blithe about your mistakes.

9. Hide your mistakes.

10. Make people afraid to admit and correct their mistakes.

11. Don’t connect the quality of everything you do to the quality of the overall paper.

12. Don’t connect the quality of your colleagues’ work to your professional self-interest.

13. Don’t respect deadlines.

14. Don’t learn and respect the newsroom process all the way through the copy desk.

15. Don’t make that next phone call.

16. Don’t read that story printout one last time to make sure everything is exactly right.

17. Believe “good enough” is actually good enough.

18. Dwell on the shit that flows downhill, and don’t set the fires that will burn uphill.

19. Kid yourself that mediocrity deserves an “achieves standards” review.

20. Take no responsibility for your decisions, especially the stupid ones.

21. Cultivate your own martyrdom and encourage martyrdom in others.

22. Be a duplicitous backstabber.

23. Relish the blame game.

24. Be afraid to speak your mind.

25. Be afraid to think big.

26. Be afraid to be an aggressive editor.

27. Be afraid to kick back a story when it’s not good enough.

28. Be afraid to be edited aggressively.

29. Throw a snit when a story is kicked back to you.

30. Hoard power.

31. Confuse power with leadership.

32. Manage through fear and control.

33. Kiss up to your bosses and kick down at your subordinates.

34. Treat full-grown adults like children just because they happen to work for you.

35. Forget about all the people around you who are working their asses off.

36. Don’t treat colleagues with professionalism and respect.

37. Don’t get reviews finished on time.

38. Make everything personal.

39. Take everything personally.

40. Bitch about the law of gravity.

Points well taken, Sean.



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