Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Men, Three Doors

I just found myself thinking about two of the men who held top positions at the Post-Gazette during my time there (and who still do): executive editor David Shribman and president Chris Chamberlain.

Most people probably don't know that many newspapers have a rule, written or not, that folks on the business side of the company - the advertising people and h.r. people and so forth - do not try to influence the folks on the editorial side - the writers, photographers and the like. At the PG, rule was encapsulated by referring to "the wall," the sacred invisible barrier between the two sides of the company.

I breached the wall enough to establish a personal relationship with Chris Chamberlain, because I was interested in the operations of the company, and because I found him easy to talk to.

In fact, what just struck me is that I found Chris easier to talk to than David. This seems odd, because I would say that my relationship with David was just as friendly as my relationship with Chris. What makes it seem even more odd is that David had an open-door policy, so I could walk into his office at almost any time, while going through Chris's door generally required an appointment.

The difference lay in how it felt to be inside the room. With David, I felt that I needed to keep things brief and to the point: he's a rapid-fire kind of guy, and I was always very conscious of deadlines looming in the background. Chris, despite having come to us from New York, seemed more laid-back. Once I did walk through his door, I felt like it was okay to stay there awhile (although I was always mindful that hey, this is the president of the company).

Thinking about the two men, their doors and what happened when I walked through them made me think of Robert R. Lavelle, the head of Lavelle Real Estate Inc., during my five years there.

Like David, Mr. Lavelle had an open-door policy. And like Chris, once I came through his door, he seemed unhurried in his time with me.

I don't know what to do with all of this, except to note that as I write this, I realize that I want to give people unhurried time when they come to me.

Assuming that anyone will want to come to me.

posted from Bloggeroid
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