Sunday, June 10, 2007

Apply General Orders to PJ work

There are many ways to determine a person's motivation and methods. While honor has always been a strong motivator for me, I was issued my primary operation orders in the Army.

Army recruits are expected to memorize the three General Orders. Every soldier must adhere to these orders without exception. Unlike the NPPA Code of Ethics or some similar goal, the General Orders come with specific punishments if they aren't followed. Consequently, soldiers must take these orders seriously.

They've added a few words (or maybe I forgot a few) in the last few years, but they're still something PJs should understand. Substitute PJ for I and newspaper or readers for military terms and it should make sense.

1st General Order

I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.

I learned this as "I will quit my post only when properly relieved." This line is the single most ingrained and important sentence to my daily work ethic. To me, it means I'll report the news until A) full completion of assignment B) deadline C) I'm called off for some other reason (bigger news) or D) I'm injured to the point of hospitalization or death.

I consider this line a serious obligation to our readers. It means our readers won't be shortchanged when they need to know what's happening. It means I'll arrive early and stay late to understand the whole story. It means I'll keep looking for a better image until A, B, C or D happens.

In short, it means I care about what I'm reporting, why I'm reporting, for whom I report and I'll continue to do so until it's done.

The added part basically means I'm responsible for my company-issued equipment. It also means I'll keep an eye on my co-workers' equipment while I'm at the office or on assignment.

2nd General Order

I will obey my special orders and perform all my duties in a military manner.

The first half of this means I'll follow instructions of my employers (see 3rd order*). If they really want me to leave a fire to make a portrait elsewhere... well, that's what they want. I've been properly relieved from covering the fire. It normally won't happen, but the desk often has information I don't (again, see the 3rd order**).

The second part of this order states how I'll conduct myself in public and at the office. I'll be a pro PJ.

3rd General Order

I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions, to the commander of the relief.

In the military, this requires soldiers to say when another soldier breaks the law. It also requires them to report abnormalities to the commander of the relief.

For PJs, our readers are our ultimate commander. So, we could read this as "PJs will report violations of law, emergencies and any oddities to our readers." Most PJs should find this is a succinct job description.

* As long as it's legal and within the Code of Ethics.
** This implies we'll give proper feedback for the desk so it can make an informed decision during emergencies. We don't argue; we report.

Enough for now,


Eric said...

Great interpretation of the three general orders. Having served twenty years in the Army I'm hapy to see them put to good use :)

Mark M. Hancock said...

Thanks. I think it's important for new PJs to understand why prior service PJs work differently. To us, it's an obligation rather than a job.

However, PJ conflicts with the spirit of the bayonet. ;-}

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I got a lot out of this, thank you for showing me something I didn't know.
I will be sure to make good use of it, and pass it along to others.



Mark M. Hancock said...

Glad to help.

Ken said...

Oh no!

I don't want to think back to my time at Fort Hood!!!

Seriously, though, the tie-in with our general orders work well.

You should pass this along to NPPA's magazine.


Mark M. Hancock said...

News Photographer doesn't want my opinion. I've been trying for 15 years just to get one shot in it. I'll keep trying though. :-)