Turning inner space into outer space

March 12, 2012

Bad habits keep us from changing with the times

Charles Duhigg — a New York Times writer — says many of us working for newspapers are stuck in a rut, so focused on front-page stories that we find it almost impossible to change our routines.

So says Steve Myers in a report for Poynter about Duhigg’s talk at South by Southwest Interactive.

He gives examples that seem all too familiar:

Automatic, like the daily work schedule that ends with a finished story at 6 p.m. Or the transcript-like story that a reporter writes after covering a meeting. Or the phone calls to get two familiar, opposing viewpoints rather than suss out a more accurate picture of what’s going on.

For the most part he blames managers who reward such behaviour. But he adds that it is up to individuals to change it.

In other words, people should focus not on the cowpath but on what got them there, and on the reward they receive after taking it. The goal, Duhigg explained, is to get your brain to feel the same satisfaction from a different behavior.

There’s not a lot of concrete advice on how to go about this. For specifics, Duhigg might insist that you read his new book, The Power of Habit, but maybe I’m being too cynical.

In any case, even self-awareness is an important first step.

Link: How bad habits keep news companies from changing and what we can do to fix them

See also: A call for leadership: Newspaper execs deserve the blame for not changing the culture