Individual Critical Reflection
For our Group Digital Magazine assignment, I elected to perform the role of co-Editor-in-chief, working alongside my classmate Josh Wilde. We organised our class into different teams, each working on different parts of the magazine: the Production team, who worked on the visual and graphic design aspects of the magazine and shaped a basic template, the Sub Editors, who proofread, corrected, and suggested changes to each of our stories, and general authors, who were given the opportunity to focus on their stories.
Having prior experience as Editor-in-chief of a writing team in the form of my ownership of the games journalism site Indie Haven, I had a number of expectations going into the project: one, that it was going to be a challenge to keep everyone on-track and productive, and two, that I was going to have to make some difficult decisions in order to ensure the success of the magazine.
We had a total of three editorial meetings, and while I would have preferred more than this in order to ensure the maximum level of preparation, many of us had time constraints lying outside of the course, and we nonetheless made good time out of the meetings that we did have. Over these three meetings, we designed logos, magazine structure, and compiled suitable stories, all formed around our main target audience of 18-24 year old students, graduates, and youths interested in culture and entertainment.
I encountered two major problems whilst fulfilling my role: the first being the difficulty of keeping my team on target in the final days of production. On the first assigned day prior to the deadline, we’d arranged for everyone in our class to meet in a computer room with the intent of working solidly for the whole day and potentially even finish the magazine by the end of the day. However, some team members hadn’t shown up, and many had left early, thinking their work had been completed when in actuality it hadn’t been. This led to arranging for work to continue on the following day, and I had to put my foot down and set strict deadlines in order to keep everyone focused on the task at hand. It was difficult, as I don’t like to come off as a mean-spirited person, but ultimately it got results, and we compiled the complete magazine with a day to spare.
I feel that this aspect of the project has given me more confidence in taking a firm leadership role, and to greater understand the importance of leadership. It’s seen in studies (Bass and Stogdill, 1990) that strong leadership roles positively impact productivity and overall worker morale, and I feel that this applies to the project, as setting firm deadlines and being blunt and clear with my team not only affected their productivity in a positive way, but overall moods seemed high.
The second major problem I encountered was a somewhat unique situation: a student in our class sent me a Facebook message two minutes after a deadline I had set for stories formatted in our template to be uploaded to our shared document folder, asking if the deadline could be pushed back by an hour and professing that their work had been lost and that they had to start again. We as a class had rarely seen this person present at both lectures and seminars, to the degree that we started to question whether they were still attending the university. After consulting with my team, with Josh, and with our lecturers, I decided to draw a line and as such informed her that, since the deadline had passed and her formatting would be incorrect, that she wouldn’t be included in the final version of the magazine. It was a difficult decision to make, as it ultimately affected her ability to achieve a good grade, but it’s a decision that I made in order to both reduce the stress and workload of myself and the production team, and to ensure that we would have the project finished on time. I think I made the right decision, as while it ultimately negatively impacted this student, it preserved the productivity and grade safety of myself and my other classmates.
While the project was overall very stressful and challenging, it also provided a lot of opportunities for skill developments and personal growth. Not only am I more proficient in digital magazine design and a more efficient worker, but I’ve learned a lot about leadership than I perhaps expected, and this is experience that will benefit me in future.
- Bass B. M. & Stogdill R. M., 1990. Bass & Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications. Third Edition. New York: The Free Press.