Letter to Romenesko

From DAN GOOD: Your ‘no jeans’ post made me laugh. I just left the Press of Atlantic City in NJ, which has grown increasingly strict in recent months. In one move, newsroom brass outlawed jeans in the newsroom. Later, the editors banned employees from listening to music on headphones at their desks.


I ended up leaving for NYC, getting a new job at NY Post.

Yes, I’m wearing jeans to work today. I needed to counter-balance from four days of dress slacks and neckties.

— Posted on my Facebook wall

Here are a few of the 54 comments about this post from my Facebook page:

James L. Rosica
My new business: selling chinos and khakis to AC Press reporters.

Kathleen Guzda Struck
I find it is just as isolating in my newsroom when everyone is wearing earphones as I do at home when everyone is wearing earphones. I like it when a conversation or debate spontaneously erupts because someone chimed in after eavesdropping on another’s conversation. Or when someone blurts out something funny that isn’t meant for anyone in particular. Transcription aside, I like the newsroom banter and exchange that earphones seem to mute.

Peter J. Skiba
I have to listen to the guy next to me whistle the theme from “My Three Sons.”

Douglas E. Jessmer
Peter, now you have that theme stuck in my head. Hope the people around me don’t protest too much.

Steve Warren
Let’s be honest. What would be your first impression if you walked into City Hall and everyone was wearing earphones and bobbing their heads? What’s the message when a reporter walks over to an editor and the editor has to take his earplugs out to discuss a story? And, does anyone know if Metallica contributes to corrections? Or missed deadlines? There’s a lot to consider.

Jenny Mondor I was a reporter, I used to have an earphone in one ear with music on and the other one to listen to the police scanner (which was mounted right next to my head). Other than that, it was generally silent, and since I find silence much more distracting than music, I liked having that background noise. Now, I’m a night editor in a slightly more lively newsroom, and there’s a lot of chatting and discussion and we have the TV on to monitor for breaking news, so I don’t listen to music at my desk.

I understand the idea of making sure that an office looks professional and that people are professional, but I think the important thing is to allow people to work the way that makes them the most effective. If that means listening to music while you write, so be it.

Lisa Loving
I wear the biggest headphones I can find as a signal to my coworkers that I’m busy — but they don’t know there’s no music playing. When I take them off it’s a signal that they can yammer at me. Plus: I must remember to thank my boss for letting me wear my fuzzy purple bath slippers at my desk. Sometimes I’m face-in-a-compybox for a solid 8 hours and my feet swell up.

Jim Thomsen
My experience over 20-plus years is that newsrooms — I’m mostly thinking copy desks — are full of undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome types who visibly wilt and eventually shut down under the onslaught of daily random noise, and escape to something soothing and steady and controllable in their ears just to be able to function.



  1. Kenneth said:

    Two things: I happen to agree with the no headphones policy, at least on the copy desk. Subtle communication and slightly overhearing things going on around you are pivotal in doing a good job, and we had a “headphone” woman at my last gig who was always in her own world and oblivious to things that everyone not wearing headphones was not.

    As for the jeans today comment. I’m confused. It sounds like you’re saying you had to wearing dress pants and ties Monday through Thursday at The Post, and you’re wearing jeans today, but I know they do not have a no-jeans policy. Or was today your first day in New York?

  2. Dave Barnes said:

    cf. Steve Jobs, Andy Gove