Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Tone is Torture; or, Post Mortem: One Rough Week

The fact that I'm up at 2 a.m. on Friday writing about my rough work week should tell you what kind of week it was.

My org is pushing a Super Duper Event on Monday. Celebrities, dramatic locations, the whole bit. Thing is, it's not really a newsworthy event. It's more of a fundraising and footage/photo-gathering event. We want the celebs to give us money and to help us raise money. But there's no news story's an old story, which, granted, we're trying to keep cameras on because it's the right thing to do, but our success should be measured in dollar signs, not headlines.

The event is huge, the local staff are screwing around. So my very capable supervisor issues an all-hands-on-deck call for staff to help with media pitches. Great! I want this experience on my resume anyway, so we grind a couple hundred calls out.

So while this is going on, another department wants us to drop what we're doing and send out releases on their non-news-making report. We say no. They complain. We still say no. They complain complain complain, and we say NO. The dispute is settled when the new chief of staff steps in and says NO, but we'll put something on the webpage. To salve egos, I place this story as the top story for the week, with the plan being to drop it today to get us on message for the Super Duper Event on Monday.

All this is setting me back severely on all my very urgent deadlines for the Huge Project. So I'm already stressed out and leaving work feeling like I've been beat with a stick from doing press calls that are a bit of a stretch for editors in Whereever, America.

But today, oh today, Friday, surpassed all the rough days by a factor of ten.

Our legendary President, who doesn't even know how to turn on her computer (I'm not being funny....she really doesn't) somehow becomes "shocked" that today, three days before the event, we haven't posted the press release on the event to the website. Not that I'm quibbling, but the press release was clearly marked "Embargoed Until May 8th," meaning that we'd basically be jamming our thumbs into the eyes of every reporter who respected our embargo if we posted it on the web before then. Her email (which she had to dictate because she doesn't know how to use email) then degenerated into general gripes about the way our department does its job. It concludes with an expectation of a "full court press on Saturday and Sunday" to make up for "ground lost" and the most senile "it's about the mission, the misssiooooonnnnnnn" closer I've ever seen.

Mission, schmission. I've been in this job for two months, and I can tell you unequivocally that The Mission is dead, and the President is holding the still-bloody knife in her micromanaging, bully-fisted hands. Right now my org is a group of staffers floundering desperately to man their posts and make a difference in spite of, not under the leadership of, a-former-Jedi-hero-turned-Sith-Lord. Her brass-knuckled karate with the staff has resulted in no director of my department lasting more than a few months. She's axed whole departments and done nothing to abate an anemic fundraising trend that threatens the future of the organization. She sets the tone, and the tone is Torture.

All this exposes an important fact to keep in mind....somewhere there is a bad actor watching our site and reporting it to her. Good to know. Be warned! If I find out who you are, and you're not a board member, you and I will definately be passive-aggressive friends for years to come.

But my supervisor has finally had it. Not only did she fight back, she slammed the boss for copying irrelevant staff on the email and told her she was finding these public dressing-downs to be contributing to a hostile work environment. Then she turned in her two weeks notice. Good for her!

Unfortunately, now I'm very much exposed with no go-between between the Boss Lady and myself. And the autonomy of the web effort is now in jeopardy.

Stress. Stress stress stress.

So Sunday I'm off to the Super Duper Event. This will be a lot like watching a train wreck up close, I think.

Oh well. At least I still have L. waiting for me in bed when I come home. She's my rock.

And by the way, Madam President, if you're reading this, I'm already travelling on Sunday for your non-event event. Take your full court press and stick it in your locker room.


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