we get a daily memo with feedback on everyone’s performance, mandatory flu shots, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Is it normal to get a daily memo with feedback on everyone’s performance?

I write as a reporter for a student newspaper that prints five days a week. We have an advisor whom I’ll call “Joe” who emails individual feedback about our work in mass emails to the whole staff for every paper we print. Joe, a former newspaper reporter, isn’t our boss—or anyone’s boss, really. He’s a paid advisor to our paper who has an office in our newsroom— and he doesn’t directly supervise our work, but he gives us all feedback on our stories, among other duties. As reporters, we each get feedback ranging from “good” to “could be better” for every story we write, often with explanations of why he gave the story that specific rating.

I don’t mind receiving feedback—in fact, I actively seek feedback from my direct supervisor on a regular basis. However, I take issue with the public nature of Joe’s feedback. I think it fosters unhealthy comparisons among the department and has led to lowered morale. Moreover, Joe doesn’t know the specific circumstances and the challenges that surround each person’s print articles (i.e. he says we should have talked to this source when we ran out of print space to include the source or the source was unavailable despited repeated emails and phone calls). My supervisor tells me not to over-invest myself emotionally in the critiques, but when I read them, I know that everyone can see what other people thought of my work.

I want to talk to my supervisor—I have a good relationship with her—and the advisor and see if I can get this practice changed. Would it be reasonable to raise concerns about this practice? Is this normal in the workplace to email mass critiques of individual performance?

Well, I can’t speak to normal newsroom practices (readers who are journalists, want to weigh in here?), but I can give you an answer for workplaces generally. That answer is: No, it’s not normal at all. It’s bizarre.

I do think your manager is right that you shouldn’t get too invested in Joe’s critiques, for all the reasons that you mentioned.

But it also might be worth pointing out to your manager — and possibly Joe himself, depending on what he’s like and what kind of relationship you have with him — that this is a strange and unhelpful practice. In particular, you might point out that feedback is most effective when it’s a two-way conversation, where it can be actual coaching (and accommodate exactly the sort of context you note Joe doesn’t have). It’s not especially constructive or good for morale to have it to be essentially a one-way loudspeaker announcement. That element is actually more important than the fact that it’s happening in front of everyone; after all, if Joe were instead providing feedback at group coaching meetings that allowed for discussion, it could (depending on the specific feedback) be a good group coaching opportunity (although it also shouldn’t take the place of one-on-one feedback).

2. Manager asked my coworker and me to decide which of us gets to do something we both want

I work in an office with several staff members, four other coworkers specific to my area under one manager. My manager micromanages everything, even when she’s on holidays. She never takes her days off, and she’s constantly pointing out our errors, no matter how small.

The other day she told two of us who have been there the longest (the other two are new hires) to choose who she is going to train to help her do billing when she’s not in the office. We both said we’d like to learn it. She says we have to choose who gets it. My problem is, I’ve been there the longest, but in the past she’s played favorites to my coworker. She even made a comment to us about how she doesn’t want to “step on anyone’s toes” and that we have to decide. I’m frustrated because I get along really well with this other coworker, and I do want to learn new skills but I know she won’t say for me to do it. We were at a stalemate yesterday about it. Is it even right for a manager to ask us to choose between us?

Nope, your manager is abdicating her responsibilities here and putting the two of you in a situation that isn’t exactly conducive to coworker harmony. If she had reason to think that neither of you were particularly invested in the decision or that you’d both clearly agree on who should do it, then fine. But that’s not the case, and the “stepping on toes” thing is ridiculous. It’s her job to decide how to allocate work.

I’d go back to her and say, “You know, we’d both like to do it, so we’re asking you to decide based on who you think would make the most sense.”

3. Mandatory flu shots

I work in health care and accepted a job offer, not knowing until the first day of orientation that they had a mandatory flu vaccine policy. This policy is not on the company website or in any paperwork, nor was it ever mentioned during interviews. I do not want to get the flu shot. Period. That is my personal choice. If I had known this, I never would’ve applied and wasted their time as well as mine. I’m aware of some hospitals that have the option to get the shot or file an exemption and wear a mask during flu season. However, this is the first time I’ve been told it is absolutely mandatory, no exceptions.

I’m not a quitter, but I’m not willing to give up my patient rights to have a job. How do I handle this? Will it look bad if I quit before I really even get started?

Yeah, some health care employers do require flu shots and other vaccinations (in order to protect patients from catching viruses from infected workers). There’s a growing backlash against this (including legislation being introduced in some states), but so far, it’s up to your employer unless you can show you need an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

Will it look bad to quit before you’ve even started? Well, your future employers are unlikely to know about it, so we’re really just talking about how it’ll look to this one employer. They’ll probably already understand that they risk losing people over this kind of policy, and as long as you’re polite about it, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Explain that the mandate is prohibitive for you, that you regret not realizing it was their policy before you accepted the job, and ask how they’d like you to proceed.

That said, I think you’re likely to continue encountering this as long as you work in health care, so definitely ask about this in the future (which is probably obvious now), and I’d be prepared with a brief, calm explanation of your reasons for not wanting the shot, even if you feel you shouldn’t have to share that.

4. Shouldn’t people come prepared for informational interviews?

I just finished an informational interview with a young man in his 20s who is the son of a professional colleague of my husband. His attire was extremely casual – worn-out jeans, long-sleeve t-shirt, baseball cap turned around. He probably could have used a bath and a comb run through his hair.

He did not bring a resume. He did not have any questions about my work. He did not have any questions about the academic institution that I work for. His responses to my questions about his education and career aspirations were not particularly specific to the work that we do here. I gleaned that he liked history. He might be thinking about a graduate degree (he was not specific). His present position is tangential to the work we do here.

By the time he did ask for advice about how to approach a job opening in another department, I was just weary pulling information out of him. The position required a master’s degree and project management experience. He does not have the former and did not express any experience with the latter.

I thought that a person should come prepared for an informational interview like a job interview. Am I an old fogy?

Nope, it sounds like he blew the opportunity, and also that he was probably pushed into it by the parent who works with your husband.

For what it’s worth, I think you should have put the onus on him to structure the time with you, meaning not expending all that energy to try to try to draw information out of him. You can signal to people that they need to come prepared to do this by saying something in advance like, “If you’ll send me the questions you’re most interested in ahead of time, I’ll do some thinking on them before we meet.”

I also think you could have said, “I should tell you that you’ll want to dress much more formally for business meetings. The way you’re dressed now is likely to make people think you don’t take your career seriously.”

But I also really like this recent take on informational interviews in Slate (and not only because they reference me at the end).

5. Will this volunteer experience look suspicious on my resume?

I’m an online transcription volunteer for the Smithsonian, working to transcribe archive items in order to facilitate research. It’s a case where volunteering is done whenever and for however long you feel you’re able to work. There’s not a manager or supervisor except in the sense that any work you do will be checked over and either approved or sent back for amending.

While I am currently happy in my full-time job, I realise that this volunteer work showcases skills that would be useful in future job applications. Should I put this volunteer work on my CV? If so, how? I’m concerned that as there’s not really anyone that can be a reference for this work, it would appear to be a false claim to potential employers. Complicating matters is the fact that I live outside of the U.S., so I’m concerned that it might seem suspicious if I claim to be doing volunteer work for a U.S.-based organisation.

Put it on your resume. It’s not likely to seem suspicious! Anyone who has questions about how you’re doing this outside the U.S. will simply ask you, not mutter to themselves that you’re obviously a liar and trash your resume. If someone wants to verify that you do this (which is unlikely, unless it forms a key part of your qualifications for a job), I’m sure there’s a way to do it; you’d get in touch with whoever your contact is there and ask them how to make that happen.

{ 440 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A note about the flu shot question: Please resist the temptation to get sidetracked on why mandating flu shots might be good policy for health care workers, since that’s likely to derail us (in a big way, based on past experience when the topic has come up here) from the letter-writer’s actual question, which is about the best way for her to handle the situation if she doesn’t want the shot. Thank you!

    1. Glasskey*

      Ok, in an effort to try to “re-rail” the conversation, I think that telling the employer that it is likely to lose people over this policy in the future may not be the way to go as they are probably not going to change their minds on this for the foreseeable future and they may see it as worth doing regardless. What might be helpful instead is to ask them to consider informing candidates up front during the interview process as part of their “culture” or right there on their website, why not, as OP suggests.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I don’t recommend that the OP say that to them (that they’re likely to lose people over it). I actually don’t even think she needs to say “hey, you should inform people earlier on about this.” She can if she wants to, but I suspect that just saying that she regrets not knowing that it was their policy before she accepted the job is going to get that message across, if it’s a message they’re receptive to.

        1. GreatLakesGal*

          Omigosh, this is one time I somewhat disagree.

          Mandatory flu shots are so much an industry standard around here that even a polite “I wish I’d known beforehand,” is a mark of being terribly out of touch with accepted norms.

          OP#3; In this case I would suggest you withdraw as quickly as possible, before your workplace invests more time in training you for a job you are unable to accept.

          Should this arise for you in the future, you may sometimes be successful if you directly contact the head of infection control at your prospective workplace; ( perhaps after accepting an offer but prior to training /orientation.) At my worksite, you would be required to provide documentation to support your need to forgo the vaccination. Some workplaces will treat this as an accommodation, similar to ADA accommodations.

          However, many healthcare sites are coming to consider vaccination as a ‘core requirement.’ While I understand your opinion that in principle, this should be listed as such, I suspect the evolution of this thinking has outpaced the application forms/ job description wording.

          I suspect you are likely to encounter this situation again as you move forward in your job search.

          1. Rat Racer*

            Yes, I agree. And while I feel badly for the OP that they weren’t made aware of this policy up front, it’s so much an industry standard that it surprises me that the OP was caught off guard. Most healthcare organizations require not only flu shots but TB test and drug tests — even if you’re not on a medical campus. So while I sympathize with the OP, I sorta feel like she ought to have known/assumed if she’s worked in healthcare in the US before that this was a going to be a requirement.

              1. LD*

                Each state has regulations regarding what vaccinations are required for healthcare workers, in what types of facilities, whether the state wants it tracked and reported, what qualifies for exemptions, etc. The CDC has some information on its website.

              2. Lauren*

                I work in higher education in California, a community college, and while they don’t require flu shots they do offer them for free on campus. However, they do require a TB test before you start work and then again every four years. No one can opt out of these.

                1. De Minimis*

                  I worked at a federally operated healthcare clinic, I believe flu shots [and others] were required for front-line medical staff. I worked in administration and wasn’t required to get them, but they were strongly recommended.

                  All employees had to do the TB test every year.

            1. Jade*

              I felt the same way, that OP should have assumed this was the norm, but maybe it’s different where they live. I even worked in a residential home for troubled, but otherwise mostly healthy kids that required flu shots. They even offered to give you certain vaccines for free at the nurses’ office to make it easy. At this point OP needs to follow AAM’s advice and leave now. The employer may be as surprised as we were at OP’s assumption, but they’re unlikely to get upset or hold a grudge over it.

          2. Dot Warner*

            This. I work in health care too and I’m flabbergasted that the OP didn’t think (s)he’d be required to get a flu shot. Health care workers and students rotating in hospitals are required to have the Hep B series, tetanus vaccines, and chickenpox vaccines (if they didn’t have the disease as a child); why on Earth would OP think they would not be required to get a flu shot? OP, the only way you can work in health care and get away with not having a flu shot is if you’re allergic to eggs or you’ve had a bad reaction to flu shots in the past. And this may sound harsh, but if you’re just anti-vaccines in general, you should find another career.

            1. Panda Bandit*

              While they should be up to date on the rest of their vaccinations, the flu has too many variables for the shot to be totally effective. There are multiple strains of flu going around, they can mutate at any time, and the shot is designed for only one of those strains. It’s still totally possible to get the flu shot and end up sick with a different kind of flu.

              1. Dot Warner*

                Yes, but you should still protect yourself from whatever strains you can – especially if you work with sick people.

                1. Panda Bandit*

                  If I had patients to tend to, yes. However, I don’t work in healthcare and have never had the flu so I don’t see a reason to get the flu shot.

              2. Dweali*

                the shot is actually 3 strains and the mist 4…

                I’m in OK and work at 2 hospitals and the only exemptions either make are for medical and religious reasons (for all staff not just those with patient contact).
                Probably the best way for OP to handle this in the future is for them to ask if it’s a requirement.

          3. The Strand*

            I second this. OP needs to reconsider leaving the health care world if she takes issue with the precautions that are common or standard for everyone, not just providers.

            My first health care job, I was required to get a series of shots, including Hep B, even though I wasn’t patient-facing. That was almost two decades ago.

          4. INTJ*

            Agreed. I work in healthcare in a non-patient-facing role and I and my staff all had to get flu shots along with the TB and other stuff. The difference at my organization is that we are allowed to wear a mask during flu season if we decline the flu shot. I wonder why that’s not an option for OP? I, personally, would find that really uncomfortable and don’t mind getting a shot, but several of my colleagues wear masks through March.

            1. KarenD*

              From what I’ve heard from friends who work at a big local hospital group that recently tightened its flu-shot policy (they did allow the masks for a few years, but then made shots mandatory) the higher-ups believed the masks were impacting patient-provider interaction.

              And honestly, they did. I had a family member who was hospitalized during the shot-or-mask period, very medically fragile. Every time I saw someone with a mask, the instinct was to keep them away from my family member. Not quite rational, but that was my reaction.

              1. Misty*

                I am both a HCW (although not in a direct patient care role for many years) and an immunocompromised patient, and I have the same reaction to HCWs wearing masks. If you are sick or not immunized, I don’t want you near me.

            2. Terra*

              Current and continuing research seems to indicate that the masks are less effective at preventing the spread of the disease than vaccination which may also be a factor.

          5. MoreThanNurses*

            I actually completely understand the OP’s frustration!

            Healthcare in general needs to do a better job preparring and onboarding non-clinical staff. While it’s true that Nurses and Doctors have spent years in school learning about health care norms and won’t bat an eye about being asked to provide blood samples for a vaccine array – the same is not true for back-office workers!

            I came from banking and took an accounting position at a hospital – I was not at all prepped for the myriad of medical tests I was required to take. All I was told was that I would need to go downtown for my drugtesting. Instead I showed up, had a detailed physical and a lot of blood drawn. I almost quit then and there but reached out to those I knew in the industry to find out if this was normal. Sadly the surprises did not stop there – I was surprised on my first day in orientation to have to take a TB test, as well as be given another series of the MMR vacines which didn’t take.

            Again, I don’t mind doing this for healthcare, but I did mind not being prepared and aware of how involved this process was going to be and what was required of me. That’s completely understandable and I wish that clinicians would stop claiming that it’s unreasonable to want to know ahead of time. DOn’t expect non-clinicians to be up to speed on healthcare norms. I spent hours researching the company I applied for, nowhere did I find information about how much testing was required from day 1 and beyond.

            1. The Strand*

              I can’t speak to your current employer, but systems vary. I’m not a clinician and I was aware of expectations, and made aware over and over again about the required testing, it was part of the application materials. All I can tell you is that TB tests, some immunizations are – indeed – “bog standard”.

              Clinician expectations often go far beyond what they are for non-clinicians. But I think it’s a great idea to let your HR know that they could provide more onboarding help.

            2. themmases*

              You are mistaken that only clinicians have this expectation. Others in this thread have stated that they aren’t even patient-facing, let alone physicians or nurses. I am also not a physician and I can attest that these requirements are absolutely normal.

              I started working in health care before my hospital started requiring the flu vaccine. I’m sorry your MMR didn’t take, that sounds inconvenient, but most of the vaccines that need to be documented (e.g. hepatitis, tdap) are things that most adults should already have had done anyway. TB testing is required by law in my state not only for health care workers, but for people working in residential facilities and daycares, so it’s not just a weird requirement we made up and expect outsiders to know.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                I think you missed the part where MoreThanNurses was in accounting but NOT in health care, and then took an accounting position at a hospital.

                I definitely agree with MoreThanNurses, when the onboarding requirements are so much more personal than filling out forms or watching orientation videos, explanations are very helpful…and a good indicator of how employee-oriented the company is. Heck, even the more mundane requirements can often be explained a lot better, especially if you’re hiring people straight out of college.

                1. themmases*

                  I didn’t miss anything, people who work in non patient-facing roles for a hospital or health care organization still work in the health care industry and still often share buildings and facilities that patients may need to use. As I stated pretty clearly in my comment, I myself am not a clinician. Perhaps you missed half of my comment.

                2. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  @themmasses, I read all of your comment carefully, and nowhere does it explain how people who are not in the health care industry should know that this is standard practice in the health care industry. If I were managing a health care facility, I would expect my clinicians to be familiar with the health care industry, but I would not necessarily expect accountants, HR professionals, custodial staff, warehouse staff, drivers, or other people who might come to my facility from any industry to be familiar with standard practice in health care. I don’t see why you find it so unreasonable for management to take that into account. I know I explain a lot about the quirks of the teapot industry to people who come to my company from another industry.

              2. Koko*

                But how would an accountant who has never worked in healthcare before know what was standard? Obviously once it’s your second or third job you would now know it’s standard, but I don’t see how someone who has never worked in healthcare would be expected to know what cultural norms are in that field.

                1. MoreThanNurses*

                  Exactly. And I’m not sure why there is so much resistant to the idea of just telling interviewees about this during the process. It’s not my responsibility to understand your onboarding process before I apply – the company should tell me that.

                  Again, ultimately I had no problem going through these hoops – but I should have been aware beforehand so I could be prepared.

              3. MoreThanNurses*

                I never said these weren’t normal industry standards, I said that those involved in recruitment and onboarding need to be clear about these expectations to non-clinical staff and that it is understandably frustrating to be blindsided by this.

                Case in point, HR told me I would need to go downtown to take a drug test. That’s pretty normal even in non-hospital workplaces. So my expectation was that I would go downtown, pee in a cup, and be out of there in 30 minutes or less.

                I did not expect a full physical, blood draw, questionnaire etc. Managing expectations is a major part of good customer service – and you should be treating your new staff with respect and not assuming they “know the drill”. It ended up being a 2 hour visit, I was not prepared for this at all and therefor missed subsequent plans/appointments do to my inability to plan effectively with my limited information. It did not set me off on the right foot with the org.

                1. minuteye*

                  And as a side note, if you had been afraid of needles, being required to take a blood test without the opportunity to prepare (say by taking a mild sedative or bringing someone along for moral support) could have been disastrous.

          6. themmases*

            I agree, these policies are very standard in health care. The OP is of course free to say that if they want, but it will be no more persuasive than them saying they wish they had known they would need a hepatitis vaccine, or to wash their hands before being around patients. Hospitals are moving towards these policies because they are recommended by CDC and in some cases required or encouraged by state law. If someone said this to me in withdrawing from a position, I would feel my department dodged a bullet because they clearly don’t understand what is normal in health care or that part of the job is protecting patients even though it may be inconvenient.
            There’s no shame in not being cut out to work in health care, there are many other great types of jobs to do especially if you aren’t a clinician. (If a clinician raised this objection, people would look at them like they had four heads.) But the OP won’t change anything by telling their almost-employer this, and they won’t get a future job in health care by sharing this attitude.

          7. Laura*

            Well said.

            In my previous job (sales in an office), employees were STRONGLY encouraged to get the flu shot– like, so encouraged that they dropped off the consent forms at every single desk. For healthcare, I would be astonished if the same policy wasn’t enforced. Flu shots are important to the health and well-being of all. End of story. Perhaps OP should consider working in another field.

          8. Aaron*

            I don’t work in healthcare, but have many friends and family members who do. Everyone tells me the same: mandatory flu shots are an absolute industry standard. Even my girlfriend, who doesn’t EVER work at an actual hospital but does work for a major health system, is required to get a flu shot.

          9. Another Lawyer*

            Honestly, I thought it was 100% industry norm. I have a few friends who do development for hospitals and even though they have next to no patient interaction and sometimes even work in satellite offices, they are required to be up on certain vaccines, including flu.

        2. I Get That Reference*

          I’d also point out that “they’re doing away with it” is not something that I’ve personally experienced. All of the medical centers in our area have actually ramped up flu vaccine requirements and have extended them to non-medical administrative personnel for patient safety. I checked every other healthcare system in a reasonable radius from us and they all require it.

          1. blackcat*

            But what’s good in your case is that you had a way to check! It sounds like the OP looked in reasonable places and didn’t find such a policy, which has left them in an uncomfortable spot. The problem here is the lack of disclosure.

            1. Artemesia*

              Because it is the industry norm, she should assume the requirement. She can certainly tell them she wouldn’t have applied if she had known and maybe they will be clearer in their application materials but this is bog standard in this field.

              1. OhNo*

                Well that’s the thing – according to the letter, it sounds like it isn’t bog standard in their area. It sounds like the standard for them up to this point was choosing between a shot or a mask. So it sounds like they were expecting the standard, and this particular employer is different.

                Try flipping the script, and saying, “You accepted a job in tech, you should have known that you’d be working 80-hour weeks, it’s standard in this field.” That might be true in general, or it might be true only in your area, or in your specific company. But that doesn’t excuse the employer from noting that fact at some point during the hiring process.

            2. I Get That Reference*

              To be fair, when I was being hired I wouldn’t have thought to check. I just assumed that if I was going to be working in a healthcare setting being appropriately vaccinated was part of the deal (like getting a TB test and being HIPAA certified).

              To me it’s like applying to work on a fishing boat and then being upset that you’re having to catch fish because you’re a vegetarian and nobody told you. To non-medical folks it might not seem that obvious, but it’s just expected in healthcare – if you’re working in an area that may contact with patients, you are a disease vector for patients. Ergo, you wash hands, vaccinate, and do everything you can to reduce likelihood of bringing in anything. That seems extreme, but in our facility we have a children’s oncology ward, and a neonatal ICU. You don’t have to get much in the way of viruses/bacteria floating around to do fatal damage. I remember reading somewhere that some hospitals have seen up to 20% drop in mortality rate from implementing mandatory vaccination.

              1. Hotstreak*

                Like accepting a job at an investment bank, then backing out because their webpage never said you need to wear a jacket and tie to work!

                1. Oy Vey*

                  Or being a member of a religion with dietary restrictions and working in a grocery store as a cashier and complaining you are required to touch forbidden meats or sell alcohol?

          2. Maureen P.*

            I think that the previous “doing away with it” comment referred to offering masks as an alternative to the flu vaccine. :) So, opposite.

      2. Treena*

        I don’t think Alison was telling the OP to specifically state to the employer that they will lose people over it. I think she was just trying to reassure OP that this isn’t going to be out of right field for them; this has probably come up before, and will probably come up again.

        Letting them know that you would have not applied had you known the requirement? Reasonable information to pass on.

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      There is one way in which quitting before you start could hurt you: you could get blacklisted at any affiliated facility for the one you quit.

      Many hospitals and clinic systems are consolidating under single ownership, meaning that hiring choices are limited in many markets. In some towns, all hospitals are owned and operated by one owning company. In those circumstances, quitting one facility removes your ability to be hired at their other facilities.

      What are the healthcare options available in your market, and are they distributed enough in ownership that you can just from one group to another? Consider this as part of your decision to make sure there are no potential longterm effects.

      1. The Strand*

        This is a great point, I am really glad you brought it up.

        Consolidation can suck, but on the bright side, when I almost transferred to another spot in the same system, I learned that I would get to take my sick and vacation leave with me.

      2. mander*

        In this instance, though, the OP should find out if the vaccine policy applies across the system. If they all require if, then she won’t be able to work at the other facilities anyway.

  2. Sara*

    I’m a journalist and no, we don’t do that.

    (I know a LOT of bitter ex-journalists who can be pretty nasty. Perhaps Joe is one of those?)

    1. Brenda Starr*

      Yes, lots of unhappy journalists out there. Editors are famous for lacking tact. But the feedback practice described is not one I’ve encountered during 14 years in the business.

      1. Tamsin*

        There’s one caveat: The scenario described is taking place in the context of a college student newspaper. I do recall our adviser marking up a copy of the print newspaper every day — he used a sharpie, circled misuses of words, would highlight especially good commentary as well as areas so far over our heads it made more sense to seek out input from international policy experts on campus first before making an argument.

        I mean it’s one adviser’s very specific way of going through the daily content, but it does it happen in different ways. In the professional world, it’s more common now to see it in black and white in the numbers of clicks your article gets — you see exactly what drew readers in, and you very quickly realize readers don’t give a shit what the untold story is behind why you failed to talk to a source, why you didn’t do your due diligence and instead just regurgitated incorrect information already published. In some ways this purely mathematical measurement of your daily output is much more ruthless and unfair and sometimes inexplicable.

        1. Ann*

          +1 that’s what my college news paper did. Also, journalism is a litle different than most professions. In most professions, mistakes are pretty private. But everything you do as a journalist will be made very public and more likely than most professions to draw lawsuits. I remember reading on letter to the the editor for a headline I wrote: “Iran increases oil production.” The letter said that the reader could understand confusing Iraq and Iran, but the article was about Saudi Arabia(!)

          1. KarenD*

            I’ve been in newspapers 25-plus years. I wholeheartedly agree that much of what we do is open to much public debate and discussion. And a journalist needs to learn how to accept criticism and admit when they are wrong – far better that one editor correct me than have all our readers think I’m stupid.

            We do markups of each day’s paper, which are posted on a board near the breakroom. It’s not uncommon for flaws in stories/headlines/design to be called out pretty sharply. And the nature of a newsroom is such that there’s not much that stays private. If a reporter and an editor are arguing about something, everyone knows it.

            My college-age self would probably be very upset and bring much drama over Joe’s critiques. But now? I see what he’s doing as above and beyond, honestly. Letting everyone see the critiques gives student journalists an eye not only for their own existing flaws, but for the other pitfalls that journalists can be subject to.

            So – strictly inside the context of journalism – I would disagree with Alison that what Joe is doing is in any way “bizarre.” I’ve had similar experiences at every paper I’ve worked at, maybe not so formal or consistent (because that is a LOT of work) but definitely not discreetly handled.

          2. Rater Z*

            Back in the 70s and 80s, I used to subscribe to Editor & Publisher. I always enjoyed the small section which would reprint errors like that and the use of words which actually read differently than intended.

            I heard that one auto dealer in upstate NY advertised a car for 1,000 bananas and some guy actually showed up with the bananas and got the car. Think there was a lawsuit over this.

        2. Red Rose*

          My college paper did the same, although the person marking it up was the head of the (small) journalism department. I think the idea is that everyone can learn from the mistakes–is Joe calling out people by name, or is he just saying, in this article, such and such was weak? Although I’m not a journalist, I am an editing professional and I’m often asked to read documents and send my edits to a group which may include everyone from the author to her boss to the CEO, depending on the context.

        3. Mrs. Psmith*

          While I didn’t work for a college newspaper, I work in a newsroom now and the part about getting critiques sounds pretty normal for an editor (you’ll find that some editors have more tact than others), but it is usually one-on-one instead of a mass email to the whole newsroom. That’s weird and a trifle harsh for a beginner journalist.

          But like the other posters have said, if you will be pursuing journalism as a career, use this as a way to start developing a thick skin for criticism of your work, especially from an uninformed third-party observer. Once you’re in a more widely published venue, anyone and everyone will be giving you feedback, and often it’s in the form of internet comments that say “thiz Reporter iz dum, lol.” Like Tasmin said, the average reader doesn’t care that you did tons of backgrounding on subjects, had to trim for print, etc. but will absolutely bitch about the smallest mistake you made.

            1. Carolina*

              I worked for a college newspaper, and the public critiques from our advisers were pretty common. We actually had a meeting every Monday (we were a weekly) called the critique session where our advisers would give us a good dressing down.

              Trust me — it’s nothing compared to what readers will say to and about you.

              That being said, I think it is important for the OP to remember that this is training, and part of your education, and not an actual employer. It’s a learning experience.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Oh, I know–I spend a huge amount of time on the internet. I’ve read my share of trolly comments and even had a few. And I know that the more readers I have, the more “you iz dum, lol” comments I’ll get!

                I think it’s valuable to get as much feedback as possible while you’re learning. :)

          1. ECH*

            @Mrs. Psmith: One hundred percent spot on, from a practicing editor/reporter. And that one comment made me lol as well.

        4. Stranger than fiction*

          That’s the first thing I thought- that this is part of his job. It’d still be a good idea to clarify that with the Op’s manager, and express her concerns over the public format though.

          1. Anna*

            Except that in journalism your mistakes are public, and what everyone here is saying is that sort of public critique is fairly standard.

    2. Laura*

      I participated in my university’s newspaper a few years ago, and our hapless advisor never did things like OP described. What a strange thing to do.

    3. Tris Prior*

      At my college paper we had weeky critiques, in person, with our advisor. I think that’s pretty normal. I am old enough that my college hadn’t yet gotten email when I was there, but I think that a one-sided email listing out everything we’d done wrong would not have worked so well. What was helpful about the critiques was being able to talk through whatever roadblocks we’d run into on our stories and get ideas on, say, how to deal with an administration that just plain didn’t want to talk with us and wanted us to essentially be a campus cheerleader.

      At my first newspaper job, the managing editor would mark up the paper with critiques and pass it around. No jobs since then did that, though, and I’ve been out of newspapers for a while so I’ve no idea whether this is still a common practice.

    4. Former college reporte*

      Yep! Our advisor marked up the paper as well. We were a weekly and I remember we all would LOVE running into the office on Thursdays to get our section and read through the advisor’s comments and edits. It was such great learning! I guess it depends on the tone of the email and feedback he’s giving, but trust me, you’d much rather learn now than when you’re the newest reporter at your first job at a real paper!

  3. Num Lock*

    #3: I believe they’ve managed to develop a flu vaccine that doesn’t cause issues for those with chicken/egg allergies recently, but for years my mother was able to get out of mandatory flu vaccine requirements based on her allergy. I support you, because I’d be screwed if I worked somewhere that required a vaccination with no exceptions since I’m also allergic to chicken/eggs. Do they seriously have NO exceptions? I’d fight that tooth and nail.

    1. Artemesia*

      There is no reason to think that people with actual reasons to not get flu shots might not be exempt; obviously if you cannot safely take them, you should not have to. On the other hand why would a health organization want to hire people who don’t believe in science or think that their personal preferences are more important than the actual lives of vulnerable patients. A person who is an anti-vaxer probably needs to have a career in something besides health care.

      1. Num Lock*

        I am assuming OP is not an anti-vaxxer, as I don’t see that in the post. Oftentimes other immunizations are required to work in healthcare that an anti-vaxxer might not have (depending on when in their life they stopped getting vaccinations) that would be more immediately prohibitive to employment than a yearly flu shot.

        Of course, OP could also be an accountant at a hospital who’s falling under a blanket policy and doesn’t have any real contact with patients. The post isn’t crystal clear.

        1. Random Lurker*

          I don’t think it’s fair to compare this to the anti vaccine crowd, who make decisions on flimsy evidence and hearsay. You can be anti- flu shot while not being an anti-vaxcers. I have a family member with Guillane-Barre syndrome and a flu shot can cause serious issues for him. There are very legitimate concerns about taking a flu shot if you have auto immune issues.

          1. fposte*

            I wouldn’t even describe that as being anti-flu shot, to be honest; it’s not a position, it’s an individual health decision.

            1. AnonasaurusRex*

              I really wish we’d stop calling declining a vaccine a personal choice. It’s not. Not really. Reducing herd immunity is not a personal choice. You’re making a choice that could affect a lot of other people even if you never come in contact with them or know them. Even with the flu vaccine we rely on herd immunity to protect people. Everyone likes to point to the flu vaccine as one you can skip because it isn’t 100% effective. But no vaccine is. It’s all a percentages game and we rely on each other to be vaccinated to boost the global effectiveness.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Though, in healthcare, stuff travels from person to person easily. An accountant doesn’t wash their hands after using the restroom, leaves her pen at the registration desk when she pops up to ask a question, doctor grabs pen to fill out a form, etc… I’m generally a fan of loosening rules for positions that aren’t “front facing” but in a medical environment I can see the rules being much tighter.

        3. Anna*

          I wondered too. The OP does say it’s a “personal choice” which doesn’t sound like a health-related reason to me, but then again I’m not required to get the flu vaccine, but it is highly recommended, so I do and I suppose you can call that a personal choice.

      2. MJ*

        “On the other hand why would a health organization want to hire people who don’t believe in science or think that their personal preferences are more important than the actual lives of vulnerable patients.”


        Getting a flu shot is not a personal choice, but a matter of public health, especially for those working in the healthcare field. It doesn’t just protect individuals from contracting the flu; it prevents them from spreading it to people who may not be able to survive such an infection.

        OP#3, if you have a medical reason that would prevent you from safely being able to have a flu shot, you should absolutely protest this requirement. If it’s an ideological objection, however, you should probably consider a different field.

        1. RKB*

          No kidding. I’m Immunocompromised. I had a chicken pox vaccine when I was younger but because someone else decided not to get the vaccine, I caught the chicken pox in my second year of undergrad and ultimately was hospitalized. When people CHOOSE (read: not “can’t get them” because I am one of those people who can’t get them) not to get vaccines, you are harming me. You are harming children, seniors, the girl sharing your train seat who underwent chemotherapy last week.

          It’s so selfish. I can’t get past it. I’m aware everyone has a right to what they do for their bodies. But when your choices affect my personal well-being, I stop caring about your supposed moral code.

          1. Kat M2*

            Me too. I have more than a couple of loved ones (of varying ages) who are immune compromised. I don’t understand it at all. Even if you’re in a non health facing role, your colleagues might have newborn babies, elderly parents, or compromised immune systems themselves (but may not “look” sick). I can understand not being able to afford it (which is why employers should provide good PTO and health benefits) but other than that, a documented medical reason is the only excuse acceptable in my book.

          2. irritable vowel*

            I agree. I realize that we all encounter people every day who choose not to get a flu vaccine, for whatever reason, and that we can’t help that. But in a healthcare environment, the staff has a responsibility to participate in whatever vaccination program is in place to protect the health of vulnerable patients–people who are there because they’re sick, and people who are perhaps actively avoiding environments where they might encounter unvaccinated people. While I am not immunocompromised and get a flu shot myself every year, I would rather take my business elsewhere than visit a healthcare facility where staff were permitted to decline vaccination for non-medical reasons.

      3. Sandy*

        I would refuse mandatory flu shots as well and I am *far* from an anti-vaxxer- background in public health, actually.

        In my case, given an auto-immune disease, my immune system has previously gone completely haywire when given the flu shot. Interestingly, I haven’t had the same effect with other vaccines. So I got the okay from my rheumatologist to skip it.

        The important flip side of this is that it entails behavioural changes as well. I make a conscious effort to stay away from babies, the elderly and others with compromised immune systems during flu season and I am militant about hand-washing and no hand-shaking.

        Those behavioural changes would put me out of contention for positions in most health care settings or day cares, and I am aware of that. I respect it quite a lot actually, because the immuno-compromised person at risk in those situations could just as easily be me if I were a patient.

        1. Glasskey*

          This would fall under the auspices of medical exemption, though. To my knowledge, no healthcare organization has ever required an employee to get a flu shot when there is a documented contraindication such as yours. Then again, if you’d asked me a few months ago, I would have told you that to my knowledge no boss has ever REALLY made employees wear dunce caps.

        2. Vulcan social worker*

          Wouldn’t that qualify as a medical exemption though? I don’t know what the specifics are to qualify for one, but I would think if you have a rheumatologist who certifies that you are unable to receive one, that’s a medical reason not to get it, not a reason of conscience that states like California or individual school systems in other places are trying to close loopholes for in order to get to herd immunity.

          (My thumbs just typed “nerd immunity.” I’m trying to decide if that would be immunity for nerds or from nerds.)

          I have read about pediatricians in California who will sign the medical exemption forms for kids who don’t really have medical issues so they can flout the law and still go to public school though. Concierge medicine types, I guess. We Americans have never been accused of not finding creative solutions to problems.

          1. Sandy*

            I suspect that I was mostly smarting at the anti-vaxxer comment, but that was before you asked us to keep our comments more in line with the actual question.

            Back to our regularly scheduled programming!

        3. Katie the Fed*

          I don’t love that someone would have to get a note from their doctor to exempt them from this though.

          I don’t know why, but flu shot is the only one I have problems with – it makes my arm swell up in a big welt and hurt for days. I don’t have that problem with any other shot.

          1. Kat*

            You can do the Flumist vaccine! I have a bad reaction to the shot (big, sore welt) so I get FluMist instead. It’s a nasal spray version of the flu vaccine.

            1. hermit crab*

              That can be a good alternative, but you have to make sure you’re a good candidate for receiving the live, attenuated vaccine. It has different contraindications than for the shot (which has a killed, inactivated virus).

              1. Gillian*

                A thing to note about the nasal spray, since it is live, you become a carrier of the flu for a week or two as it works through your system and you create antibodies. This means if you’ve got any immunocompromised people or infants in your life, you should keep your distance so you don’t pass the flu along to them.

                When I was going through chemotherapy, my doctors told me to make sure my family/friends got the needle shot, not the nasal one, so they wouldn’t accidentally give me the flu while trying to protect me and themselves from it.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Ouch! That sucks.

            I always get it–I guess I’m lucky I don’t have any problems with it. Maybe just a sore arm and a slight elevation in temperature. I can’t recall any others I’ve had difficulty with. My doctor’s office gave me an MMR booster before I went to England the last time, due to the measles outbreaks happening at the time. No trouble with that either.

            I’m very grateful to be overall healthy and will keep doing my part to help other people who can’t get shots stay healthy too. Yay herd immunity! \0/

            1. Elizabeth*

              I used to feel miserable after getting the flu shot, then a coworker suggested I take 2 Tylenol about 30 minutes before the shot. I didn’t have any reaction to it afterwards. Now, I always take some before I head to employee health.

              My hospital doesn’t require the flu shot. However, it is a requirement of our health insurer. And, if the levels of influenza in the community reach a certain level, any employee who hasn’t had the shot, regardless of why, is off work unpaid until the outbreak subsides. We have a close-to-100% participation rate for our employees.

              The TB test is my personal bugaboo. When I started working 20+ years ago, my very first test was done with contaminated serum that causes a false positive reading and a reaction at the site that lasts about 10 months . I have to get a chest x-ray every year to prove I don’t have TB.

                1. doreen*

                  Actually not- there’s a vaccine used outside of the US that causes a positive PPD test. At my job , a positive test means a chest X-ray even if the person has previously received the vaccination because that’s apparently the only way to distinguish between a false positive and an an active infection, and even vaccinated people can get infected. So most just skip the PPD and go straight to the X-ray.

        4. Rater Z*

          My wife has rheumatoid arthritis and takes the maximum dosage of methotrexate and has for years. The medicine was originally developed to deal with childhood cancer so it does tend to limit immunity for her. She and I both get the flu shot every year. She’s 63 and I am about to turn 71 (and healthy) so we are both vulnerable to the flu due to age as well as her health. The other medicines for RA don’t work with her.

          Sh was at the ER a few years ago during flu season. When they found out about her medicine, the orderly showed up with a face mask for her and the comment that “If she objects, we have plenty of duct tape!” We both laughed at that.

      4. Rat Racer*

        I came here to say more or less the same thing — only more through the lens that I’ve worked in Health Care for almost 20 years now, for several different health systems in different states, and everywhere I’ve worked either required the flu shot or hounded you endlessly until you got one. And I’m a consultant who is usually nowhere near patients. So, I’m kind of surprised that the OP is surprised.

        Meanwhile, flu vaccines don’t seem to work all that well, but maybe that’s immaterial to this argument.

        1. Artemesia*

          Actually the fact that that flu vaccines tend to be less effective is more of a reason for requiring the vaccine as herd immunity is harder to establish.

        2. Mando Diao*

          You may still get sick after getting the vaccine, but it’ll be less intense and you’ll recover faster. I’ve seen couples get the flu at the same time, and there can be a huge difference when one is vaccinated and the other isn’t.

        3. Glasskey*

          There is no doubt that: 1) The vaccines work better in some years the others, depending on how closely scientists are able to predict the major strains likely to hit each season; and 2) None of them work as well in certain at-risk populations as we’d like them to. Overall, though, they usually work better than no vaccine.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think we need to explain to the the OP why flu shots are mandatory, since her question isn’t about whether it’s legal or reasonable, but just about how to handle her withdrawal. And if we go that route, I think it’s likely to take over the comments on this post and derail us, based on past experience when this has come up.

        I’ll put a note at the top of the comment section about that too, since I know that’s an easy path to end up going down with this topic. (And this is not meant to chastise anyone, just to manage the direction of the conversation before it goes further down that road.)

    2. Glasskey*

      Yes, there is an influenza vaccine that can be used in patients who are allergic to eggs. (It’s called FluBlok.) In many cases, though, patients with egg allergies can receive standard flu vaccines safely and recommendations from the CDC and other organizations have eased considerably in this area in the past few years. Bottom line is that it may be more difficult for those with egg allergies to claim an exemption if required by the employer. It doesn’t sound like OP is in this group, though; (s)he mentioned it’s a personal (vs. medical) choice. I’m sure this is going to be a controversial post so I may as well give a controversial answer to start the ball rolling: Healthcare workers with direct patient contact need to be vaccinated against the flu. This isn’t about whether you get sick. It’s about infection control when you are taking care of immunocompromised patients (children < 2, elderly, people on chemo, transplant patients, ….) for whom the flu may be fatal. So unless you can claim a medical exemption (and even then, recognize that if there is an outbreak you may get reassigned away from patients). I know some of you will disagree with this but for me this is part and parcel of the job. Jumping off soapbox now….

      1. Jade*

        I agree. Personally I don’t think it’s ever okay for sick workers to be allowed near even sicker patients under any circumstances, whether it’s the flu, a cold, a stomach virus, whatever. Stay home. Employers in healthcare- give your employees generous PTO so they don’t feel tempted to come in and spread their germs to the patients.

        Thing is, germs love healthcare settings, and only strict enforcement of infection control protocols can prevent things like MRSA outbreaks from happening, so it makes me cringe inside to think that there are people out there *choosing* not to get vaccinated against an easily preventable disease such as the flu when they know they could bring that infection to their worksite and infect the patients there. My sister works at a nursing home where a patient died last year of complications from the flu. Workers are required to get vaccinated for it. When *anyone* there gets sick with a communicable disease, they have to wear gloves and a mask, and anything publicly accessible within the unit is scrubbed with disinfectant at the end of every shift. Most workers who are contagious choose not to come to work for the sake of the residents and to spare the hassle of disinfecting everything.

      2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        FYI, one can undergo allergy testing (as I did) to determine whether one has an allergy or intolerance.

        With purely physiological reaction, one can receive the regular flu shot without issue despite a high level of intolerance (like me).

        With immunological reaction, one can take the alternative shot.

    3. Treena*

      This is my plea to everyone to stop trying to grasp at straws attempting to defend the OP in #3.

      (1) There is no medical reason why she can’t get vaccinated. If there was a medical/religious reason, it would have been stated. She said the words “my personal choice” because she is an anti-vaxxer.
      (2) She is not allergic to vaccine components. No healthcare organization would ever not exempt someone for that reason.
      (3) She’s not an accountant who rarely comes in to contact with patients. It was clearly stated that she “work[s] in healthcare.” That means she touches and/or talks to patients.

      Please, please, please stop with these arguments. It’s detracting from not only the original question, but it’s making vaccinations and hospitals that require them seem unreasonable when they are far from it.

      Healthcare workers and hospital patients are exposed to nasty germs from all over the place. Patients should not have to be doubly exposed to influenza because one worker thinks it’s not necessary. Of course the young, healthy healthcare worker is going to be fine! The elderly patient who dies from pneumonia? Not so fine.

      Artemesia said it eloquently, “why would a health organization want to hire people who don’t believe in science or think that their personal preferences are more important than the actual lives of vulnerable patients.” Answer: they don’t! That’s why they have this policy. And it’s not underhanded of them to not publicly advertise it. If you work in healthcare, you need to get vaccinated, and you need to expect this everywhere you go. Period. Not your personal choice.

      1. Violetta*

        I’m as pro-vaccine as they come but honestly, you can’t know if any of your points are true. The information is just not there in the letter.

        1. MK*

          I understand that we shouldn’t read things in the letters that aren’t there or make assumptions. But the information that actually is in the letter states that this is the OP’s “personal choice”; I think it’s logical to assume that this clearly excludes health/allergy issues.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I don’t think it’s logical at all. I have a bad reaction to the flu shot. I don’t think it’s an allergy because I have no known allergies at all, but it hurts like hell for days so it’s not something I really want to subject myself to. I’m vaccinated for everything else under the sun, but I opt to forgo that one. That doesn’t make me anti science.

            1. Dot Warner*

              If you’re healthy and less than 50 years old, you can get the FluMist nasal spray – no needles required! :)

            2. TL -*

              Though I’m going to point out that you also don’t work with high-risk populations, which is the key point here.

              Lots of people don’t get the flu shot because they’re not high-risk or they don’t interact with high-risk populations so it’s just something they’ve never had to worry about. I get the shot when it’s easy and convenient (if my pharmacist asks while I’m picking up my ‘scripts or if it’s easy to get to at work) but I’ve never had the flu, I mostly spend time with other healthy 20-30 year olds, and if I get sick for a week or two, well that sucks but I’ll be fine.
              If I was volunteering at a nursing home or working with sick people or babies, my attitude would be quite different, though, and that’s the sticking point here – the OP is looking at working in a hospital.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                See, I still get it because I do go out in public, and there is no way for me to know which person I stand in line with might have immunocompromised family members at home. Or might be out at the store on their last spoon of the day. Also many of them may have small babies.

                And all these things are true for my coworkers as well. So I get it. Plus, it’s free!

            3. MK*

              It’s not an allergy, but it would certainly count as a health issue in my mind. And if, instead of saying you have a bad reaction to the flu shot, you said it is your personal chose not to get it, that would be a downright bizzare choice of phrase.

        2. Treena*

          Sure, I don’t know that all of that is an absolute fact. But if it weren’t true, it’s one of those things that likely would have been stated. We tend to take the letter as it is written here, so when OP says, “I do not want to get the flu shot. Period. That is my personal choice,” we need to honor that and not try to come up with a million possibilities that what the OP says isn’t true.

          I really can’t stand when commenters speculate to no end trying to make the employer into some kind of unreasonable, evil entity that won’t listen to reason and turning the OP/employee into some kind of victim of the system. Yes, sometimes that happens, but a hospital requiring someone allergic to vaccines get injected with vaccines?! These sort of false accusations towards the “man” or the “system” are precisely what anti-vaxers use to “prove” that the pharmaceutical industries are trying to poison us all. It’s really dangerous rhetoric, and as Alison pointed out, completely irrelevant to the actual question!

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            We’re asked not to read into the word choice of OPs, which means that deciding that “personal reasons” must mean those reasons are not related to an ADA issue, or that “works in healthcare” must mean she has patient contact is inappropriate. Take the OP at face value — she has reasons to avoid a flu shot, which she doesn’t care to share, and she works somewhere in the healthcare industry, with role unspecified.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              If the OP really does have medical reasons for declining the shot, then she’s the worst question-asker ever, because that’s important information that should have been included.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              Also the OP seems to be very reasonable about this, they have decided they would rather leave the job than get a vaccine, which is a valid choice, and they haven’t made any negative comments about the situation. They just want some advice about how to handle it appropriately.

          2. Cath in Canada*

            Right! It was like when my employer started mandating either a flu shot OR wearing a mask whenever you’re in a patient care area, and some disgruntled employees from another site went to the local press saying they were being forced to get the shot against their will. It was super frustrating to see all the anti-vaxx / anti-big pharma comments showing up all over the news and my social media pages, when I *knew* that the employer’s policy was being misrepresented.

          3. Violetta*

            I’m trying to avoid speculation from both sides. OP doesn’t want the flu shot. She’s willing to leave the job if that’s what it comes down to. There’s no false accusations, griping about “the man”, or any anti-vac rhetoric from her side at all.

      2. Britt*

        +1 to all of this. I’ve been working in healthcare since I graduated from academia (hospitals) to pharma. Every single hospital I’ve been at requires two TB tests upon hiring, bloodwork, and a yearly flu shot: no exception. I would be extremely hard pressed to think that the OP really didn’t know this. Most of the time, there is also the requirement of proof of vaccinations for all employees, not just the ones who touch patients. You could be cleaning the floors there and still need to have these requirements simply because you are dealing with a space where there are immunocompromised patients. If this is a “personal choice” (which I won’t get into because it’s making me angry just thinking about it), then I would seriously consider working elsewhere than a hospital environment. You’ll likely not have a good reputation with this organization quitting at this point but just leave it off your resume.

        1. the_scientist*

          This is my thing as well. I’m a career healthcare/healthcare adjacent worker…I actually worked in a quality assurance lab for a vaccine production company for a while! Every single workplace I’ve been part of has required extensive documentation and blood work to show you are protected against vaccine-preventable illnesses, plus TB testing, plus a clearly stated flu shot or mask 24/7 policy (although most hospitals now don’t allow employees to opt out of flu shots unless they have a medical reason for doing so). It beggars belief that someone who works in a healthcare field would be unaware that flu shots are required by their employer, so I agree that bringing it up as a reason for quitting would make OP look wildly out of touch with healthcare norms.

          Also agreeing that going forward, this OP needs to re-consider whether health care is the right field for them, if their “personal choices” don’t include protecting patients from serious illness.

      3. Kat*


        If you have a medical contraindication/allergy, of course the organization will give you an exemption. But to not get the shot for personal choice? I can’t think of a single health organization that would hire you, including non-profits or pharmaceutical companies. I worked in corporate pharma and it was still required. The whole point of these orgs is to prevent disease, prevent it spreading, and promote herd immunity.

        If this is your choice and you’re going to not give on it, you may want to look for jobs outside of healthcare.

      4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        You know, I’d like to know where OP works – so if I get sick, and she’s there, I don’t want to take myself or my family members there.

        My daughter works in health care (physician assistant) – but in an area where “holistic medicine”, “alternative herbal medicine”, and even quackery take place. Comes along an anti-vaxxer family – and the kid gets sick and needs medical care.

        Nightmare for treatment. Isolation is necessary, because in the office there may very well be those who cannot receive vaccines for medical reasons and you’re putting THEM at great risk.

        And yes, if you’re anti-vaccine, you shouldn’t be working in health care. Just like if you’re a prohibitionist, why would you work in a bar?

        1. Bwmn*

          With all due respect – if issues of ill healthcare personnel being at work is a concern to you – then a great thing to do would be to check what kind of sick leave they offered.

          I used to work for a children’s hospital where all of our PTO (sick days, personal leave, vacation) all came out of one pool. So if you were sick zero days a year, that was more time for vacation/personal use. I don’t know if that’s still the policy, but in always struck me as an excellent way to encourage people to never use sick days. Not to mention general difficulties around scheduling doctors/nurses for all shifts.

          Sick day policies as a general rule in the US aren’t fantastic and generically don’t encourage people taking the time off they should. Flu shots are really just the tip of the iceberg.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            I work in the for -profit, DPS (“dreaded private sector”). Sick days are generally ONLY to be used when you’re sick. That being said….

            Discouraging people from using sick days – by rewarding them for not doing so, is a recipe for disaster. That colonoscopy or mammogram? Don’t use your sick time to do that, right? WRONG.
            That dental work you need done? Uh, you can “cash out” sick time, better to use that for vacation than to keep yourself well, right?

            Etc. etc. etc. Rewarding people for not taking sick time means that they will work when they’re sick and shouldn’t be working.

            1. Bwmn*

              I agree. I thought it was ridiculous but as a young person who never thought she was sick…..

              However, I bring this up because I think the correlation between “having flu shots” and “not having staff expose patients to illness” is more at the theoretical level than the in practice level. So for a specific OP, who presumably is very willing to use sick days to stay home when ill (compared to XYZ other employees still coming in with assorted infections), whether or not she gets a flu shot and the direct impact on patients isn’t what I would emphasize.

              I think the greater point is on the fact that it’s a professional reality for much of the healthcare industry. I’m sure there are places where it’s easier to get an exception and places where it’s harder – but it’d be like working for nonprofits and saying you didn’t want to work for an organization that accepted any government money or any corporate money. Sure, there are foundations that exist within either/or parameter – but it shrinks your pool of potential jobs.

          2. Ife*

            My friend is a nurse. She’s told me how difficult it is to call in sick, at least at the hospital she works at. *That* scares me more than the prospect of an unvaccinated accountant.

            1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              I worked at one place – where they threatened you if you used your sick days.

              They even intimidated a guy right into the ICU and three months’ disability because they thought he was faking. The blood clots in his lungs… well, they were VERY REAL.

                1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  Irony of it – one of the managers was yelling at me for sending him home — when the sick guy’s wife called and said he was admitted to intensive care and will be out for at least a month, probably two.

                  I didn’t admit to having located a doctor in his neighborhood for him, told him to drop my name to get an appointment and SHE (the doctor) immediately sent him to the hospital.

            2. KellyK*

              My mom was a nurse for 30 years or so, and she has all kinds of horror stories about people fired for excessive call-outs when they were in the hospital, or about working through a major illness because there was no one to cover. Not all of this stuff was contagious, but her general impression was that all her employers talked a good game about wanting people to stay home when they were sick, but the staffing levels and rules meant that if you could physically drag yourself in, you had to do it.

      5. Dot Warner*

        +1000. The OP’s right to make a “personal choice” does not trump his/her patients’ right to stay alive

        And as I and a few other posters have mentioned above, most patient contact jobs require TB tests and other vaccines (Hep B, tetanus, chickenpox); why would anybody think they’d need all those but not the flu shot?

        1. T3k*

          Sadly, I know a healthcare place that, while flu shots are mandatory, and they strongly push people to get yearly TB tests, they don’t actually check if the staff got the test done. Needless to say, I know someone there got latent TB and they have a strong suspicion they know who gave them it (a staff member with a constant cough that refuses to get the test done because they don’t want to give up alcohol for a year). Now the person is dealing with a host of even worse health issues, all because some staff members care more about their alcohol than everyone else’s health.

          1. Treena*

            This is why some healthcare orgs have policies, and others don’t. The ones who have tightened up policies have either had this happen, or have heard of this happening and decided that they didn’t want to risk the liability of something so ludicrously terrible for their reputation.

    4. Merry and Bright*

      In places I’ve worked that offer the flu vaccine I have been asked to sign a form declaring I am not allergic to eggs or chickens. No form, no vaccine. I suppose different workplaces vary in their approach.

    5. sprinkles!*

      I used to work for a hospital in their marketing department and we were required to get a flu shot plus other vaccinations. Even in a non-clinical position, I interacted with patients on a daily basis and also spent a lot of time walking around the hospital. From the hospital’s POV, they couldn’t take any chances of disease spreading. I don’t believe anyone could opt out of it either, as it was a condition of employment. This was several years ago though.

      1. finman*

        The hospital may also require you to get titer tests to ensure you are still vaccinated for MMR, Varicella, etc and be required to get those additional vaccines beyond the flu shot and TB tests people mentioned.

    6. JB (not in Houston)*

      Num Lock, FYI, I have an allergy to eggs, but I’ve been safely able to get a flew shot for the last several years. If you want to get a flu shot, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to even with your egg allergy.

  4. Newsie*

    Oh, pick me, I’m a journalist of sorts! (TV.)
    1. That does NOT happen in real life. We all talk amongst ourselves about pieces we like, and if something really breaks news we might get a “great job!” email, but we don’t get harangued via public email daily. Privately, maybe, if something is a disaster.
    2. I can tell you what is probably happening though, based on my knowledge of salty old reporters – Joe is trying, misguidedly, to give you feedback. He probably also wants others to see when people do well or poorly so they can learn from a larger sample, if that makes sense. However, as you’re able to tell, it really doesn’t work in a large group when you’re not able to explain yourself…

    Chin up, OP #1. This is most decidedly abnormal.

    1. OP #1*

      I’m the OP for #1, and I haven’t worked in a professional newsroom before–but I’ll be working at a well-known newspaper in NYC this summer. However, I do think I’ll talk to Joe after midterms are over and tell him–diplomatically of course–that critiques via public email are not the most constructive way to provide feedback.

      Frankly, I think the public critiques feed into people’s worst tendencies to compare themselves in each other. Imagine if you or your child went to a school when your grades were publicly posted outside the door for every assignment, quiz and test. I think most readers here would balk at the practice and refuse to send their kids there, and I don’t think such a strategy would work in the workplace. As an interim solution, I set up my email to automatically forward the critiques to my archive so I can look up the emails if I need to, but otherwise, I’ve been resisting the urge to read them.

      1. Artemesia*

        The real question here is why is the management of your educational program PAYING some guy to do something this destructive. Someone hired him — they need to be managing him. Of course incredibly sloppy management is the hallmark of higher education — but this guy is a consultant not a tenured full professor. Surely he could be expected to do something useful. Sounds like a grift frankly — someone is helping him to a paycheck.

        1. OP #1*

          Artemesia, if someone is managing Joe, I don’t know about it–and I would assume so far that he doesn’t really report to anyone. He’s a paid adjunct staffer of the journalism department.

          I do think critiques have their place–and as much as I hate to admit it, some parts of his critiques are spot-on–but I think his failure to take in all the context he can by talking to us and our department heads so we can get more informed feedback is mind-blowingly stupid. If he’s getting paid to do this as a full-time job, I should be getting better feedback on my stories than this.

          1. Mona Lisa*

            As someone who works in academia, I can assure you that there is someone supervising Joe, especially if he’s only adjunct. There’s going to be a department head or director who is in charge of Joe’s evaluations, raises, and employment status. If your direct conversations with Joe and your supervisor don’t go well, you could contact the department directly and ask to set up a meeting with Joe’s supervisor.

            1. mull*

              There’s no evidence that anything like this needs to happen. No one’s being harassed, and it seems unfair to complaint that high up about what amounts to a preference for how feedback is given.

              This situation is not like posting grades publicly because are explicitly private information. This is internal commentary about writing, writing that is designed for and presented to a public audience.

              There’s also no evidence that anything happening here is “destructive.” Having a conversation with Joe makes sense, ideally one where you genuinely ask about his methods without simply asking for him to change them, but just because you don’t like what he’s doing doesn’t make his methods wrong.

                1. esra*


                  OP has specifically said they do want feedback. Are you telling me you’ve never met anyone outside of millennials who can’t handle criticism?

                2. martinij*

                  I’m a milennial, and welcome (as well as provide!) constructive criticism from both those my senior and junior. Please, please let’s avoid this stereotype.

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                This is internal commentary about writing, writing that is designed for and presented to a public audience.

                I come from the creative side of writing and open critiques are pretty common. The idea is generally by seeing (and often discussing) other people’s mistakes, you are learning.

                So I could see how a teacher/advisor might think that by highlighting to the group that Jimmy should have gotten a quote, Jerry might apply that to the piece he is currently working on.

                1. Former Reporter*

                  I’ve never seen an emailed critique like this before, and it’s probably not as effective as working with student reporters throughout the news-gathering and writing process. That being said, public criticism is very common in journalism. Even if you don’t get it in the classroom or staff meetings, you will definitely get it in angry phone calls, speeches at public forums, community email threads, social media posts and letters to the editor.

                  OP, you could mention to your professor that the public critiques are creating an unhealthy and demoralizing atmosphere, but you can also take it as an opportunity to see how a publication appears to your readers. Getting feedback on everyone’s work can be a great way to learn. Your professor might not know all the negotiation and back-and-forth discussion that went into the final publication, but neither do your readers. He could be more tactful, sure, but knowing what holes a reader will see in your work is really valuable, especially early on in your career.

                  Good luck!

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  I think that tends to work better in forums or meetings where people have the chance to chime in and/or defend right there. Joe might be trying to facilitate this, but I don’t believe email is the right way to do it.

                3. Former Reporter*

                  Good point, Elizabeth West; this sort of thing would be much more helpful followed by a class discussion.

            2. The Strand*

              Yep. Talk to Joe first, and if that doesn’t work (or you don’t get a satisfactory answer), provide some feedback to the department head.

              And well, if you can, try to have a little compassion. Adjunct instructors often get even less assistance than full timers in learning how to teach, a lot less pay (usually around $3000 a class), and often don’t have an office. My good buddy who adjuncts calls the shared room a hundred of them share (with a refrigerator, a table, and a couple of file racks) “the Pit”. That’s about right.

              That said, adjuncts often work the hardest at truly teaching well. They don’t usually rest on their laurels.

          2. mull*

            I’d offer that the process-agnostic as well as the public approach is valuable.

            It’s perfectly normal in a journalistic piece to note when a key source cannot be reached for comment or does not respond to requests for an interview. If basic information like that is missing from a piece, that’s a learning opportunity for everyone involved with the paper, including whoever is making decisions about column inches. In one way, these evaluations are of the paper as a whole, not just each writer or article.

            Better feedback is possible anytime feedback is given, but it sounds like one thing “Joe” is offering, intentionally or not, is an excuse-free evaluation. That’s good. A newspaper’s readership has nothing but what’s on the page, which is what Joe is evaluating. Having your name on a byline is already a very public act, and it doesn’t seem crazy to include some element of “public” feedback internally. That a piece of information was difficult to get or unavailable doesn’t mean that a story wouldn’t have been better with it.

            He may also be depending on individual authors to provide their own context to adjust how they absorb feedback. If you were told by a supervisor/editor it was fine to omit a source Joe suggests, then he may really just be offering a suggestion. He may also be exposing flaws in your supervisor’s decisions, however, and that’s a valuable learning opportunity as well.

            Joe could just be a crusty old bastard, but that doesn’t necessarily make him wrong. If the feedback is useful, absorb it and apply it.

            1. Ad Astra*

              I tend to agree here, even if I don’t actually care for Joe’s method myself. Stories need to acknowledge that obviously relevant sources aren’t quoted and assure the readers that they did reach out. That’s a perfect example of things a professional journalist with years in the field would know, but a college journalist very likely wouldn’t. (If you’re strapped for room in the print edition, find something less important to cut out, and run the full version online.)

              OP, I really do encourage you to read the feedback but work on not taking it personally. That was something I had to consciously work on. For a while, I even stopped reading the critiques of papers I didn’t personally work on, because I tended to take all the critiques personally even when they weren’t directed at me.

            2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

              Better feedback is possible anytime feedback is given, but it sounds like one thing “Joe” is offering, intentionally or not, is an excuse-free evaluation.

              I often ask my colleagues who are not writers and have no connection to my current project to read my pieces, specifically because they don’t have the context. If something stands out to them, it’s important for me to revisit/think through the decision. Sometimes, it’s as simply as “nope, this is specific to the client’s brand guide,” but that process of evaluating my choices is helpful.

          3. Artemesia*

            Someone hired Joe for a purpose (perhaps only to funnel money to good old Joe) and he definitely has a supervisor. As an adjunct (the very lowest level of the academic food chain) the department chair at least and probably some division lead is responsible for his work. Someone has to deal with the drunk adjunct who doesn’t show up for his classes, the adjunct who pinches bottoms, the adjunct who is a poor teacher, the adjunct who gives everyone As without requiring much work — that person should be working with Joe to make the process more helpful. No I am not making up any of the examples.

            1. mull*

              Maybe it’s a lot of things. I’m not sure what your post is meant to argue.

              But yes, a complaining student might very well be able to jam up an adjunct by going to someone higher up the food chain. I don’t see anything here to warrant that except that the OP doesn’t like one thing about how Joe does his job. And that one thing is hardly on its face objectionable; it just makes the OP uncomfortable.

          4. Sharkey*

            It’s possible that Joe may be an insufferable blowhard but he also may be sharing with a group, not to get others to compare themselves to one another, but thinking that it would be helpful for ALL of the students to know these things he provides. Sometimes the message you’re intending to send isn’t the one that is received. I can even imagine in a classroom setting that students in a writing field (journalism, creative writing, etc.) getting critiqued in front of other students, after ground rules have established a sense of trust and security. If Joe is or has formally taught in the classroom, it may be a reason why he’s doing this.

            This isn’t to say that it’s ok. As Alison pointed out, part of providing good feedback and mentoring others requires a two-way dialogue. Plus, it may be having a side-effect that is not what Joe is intending (the comparison to others that it’s creating.) If he has good intentions and is open to feedback, you might suggest to Joe that you fear his feedback is getting dwarfed by the students desire to compare each other as a result of the feedback. You can say that you thought you’d mention it since he’s not privy to the inner discussions amongst students in the event it was useful. Ideally, if he was going to provide group feedback he would generalize it or he would send direct emails to students tailored to their particular articles, but not both. All you can do is provide him some feedback based on your experience. The rest is up to him, but for the sake of the students coming in behind you, I hope you will try.

            Good luck!

        2. Ad Astra*

          It does seem like journalism schools are among the most sloppily managed sects in higher education. I would guess it’s because so much of the staff came from the field: newsrooms are pretty poorly managed by AAM standards anyway, and now you’ve got a staff full of people who don’t consider themselves academics, not to mention a whole lot of adjuncts.

      2. Judy*

        As a counterpoint, you have already agreed to post your assignments out for the world to see. The critiques are only sent to the newspaper staff. And these days, there are going to be lots of folks critiquing articles posted online, I see it on our newspaper’s website. It’s rare to note some obvious error and there not be comments about it.

        I’ve said before, when I was in college, our scores were posted on bulletin boards next to each professor’s office. They were listed by student ID number. In the 80s, we didn’t have web portals to look things up. In my parent’s time in college, they posted the scores by name.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            For us, it was class rankings my senior year of high school. Right outside the head guidance counselor’s door, which was next to the tardy check-in desk.

            1. Rex*

              In the second semester of my senior year, they published a list of where everyone was going to college. (Or not.)

              1. Skipper*

                Is that not a common thing? My high school cut out silhouettes of graduates, put our kindergarten photos on the faces of the silhouettes and then listed where we were going to college and what we were planning to study or just “work”.

      3. Kyrielle*

        And this is another reason it doesn’t work. It’s entirely possible that if Joe emailed comments on just-your-articles to just-you, you would read them, incorporate what you could, maybe give him context about the rest, and move on. Instead you’re auto-filing and completely ignoring his comments, which is totally understandable but prevents any benefit from them being sent to you.

      4. Macedon*

        I think the public critiques feed into people’s worst tendencies to compare themselves in each other.

        Unfortunately, you’re getting into the one industry where those tendencies are a priority. You will constantly be judged against your peers, your competitors, and frequently your publication “betters” ( aka the guys playing in a higher league than that of your rag, whom management are targeting as the ideal competition ). In that sense, you need to very quickly come to terms with the toxicity of the journalism industry. Or the thrill, depending on your perspective.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Only tangentially related. My dad was a reporter. My mom has stories about how she’d call him to say, “can you pick up a loaf of bread on your way home?” and he’d shout into the phone, “What?! That’s a great scoop. I’m on it!” in order to make his colleagues in the newsroom wonder what story he had that they should be hunting down.

          1. Macedon*

            The state of gluten affairs can be a great investigative concern, you know. I wouldn’t miss a bread scoop either : )

      5. phyllisB*

        Funny you should use the example of posting kids’ grades outside the door. When I went to college (back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, according to my kids) instructors WOULD post grades outside the door. However, they were listed by SSN# instead of name. I sincerely hope that practice has been discontinued.

        1. Evan Þ*

          Several years ago when I was in college, there was one class which gave individual ID numbers on our copies of the final exam, and posted our grades under that ID number.

          No other class posted grades publicly. Though, several posted the mean, median, and standard deviation.

      6. firstgirl*

        This was a very common practice when I was writing for my college newspaper. It took two forms – 1) an email from the student editor-in-chief after every issue’s publication, providing mostly positive feedback and public shout outs for good work & 2) regular emails from board members (who were typically alumni working in journalism) publicly critiquing every article & aspect of a specific issue.

        The idea was that this wasn’t a regular workplace, but rather a learning environment and that we could all benefit from reading constructive feedback about the paper as a whole. Not to mention, the practice recognized that each article and editorial decision was often a group effort, and so it was as helpful for the News Editor to see feedback about including a certain source as it is for the reporter who’s byline is on the article.

        I agree this would be totally bizarre in a normal workplace. But as a student, I’d try to look at it as simply another opportunity for constructive criticism. Feel free to ignore critiques that you feel are based on insufficient information (like a source not responding) and don’t worry that your peers are judging you – more likely, they’re all just trying to improve too.

    2. Sinjin*

      TV veteran too! I worked at several large market stations and, depending on who owned you, the station could have a paid consultant (or researchers) who give regular feedback in various forms, often to the entire news/promo staff. Usually, though, these folks would swoop in periodically vs. being in-house on a daily basis. At my last O&O, there was an internal “post” after every newscast that included news/production folks as well as daily critique conference calls for each late newscast (that could be brutal!) between news departments and broadcast division management – the top dogs.

      While I’ve never worked in print or have seen a “Joe” per se … there are a lot of flavors of advising, micromanagement and public feedback, which can vary wildly depending on who owns you.

      1. Noah*

        Former large market TV producer here. We always had a public “error” log after shows, but that was mostly on the technical side to alert directors, etc. I did have a daily debrief with my executive producer (in private). I like the idea of daily feedback, but just do it in individual emails. I’ve learned that journalists, for all our communication skills, are often really bad at interpersonal communication.

        1. Sinjin*

          So true about the communication! I’ve never worked at a station that did this well, no matter the ownership group (or network). It’s only gotten worse as audience share has dwindled and stations scramble for viewers.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          Oh amen & hallelujah on the interpersonal communication thing. Yeah, daily discrep reports are the norm in TV, but they’re generally for technical problems and control room issues.

          Our news director emails periodic show reviews to the entire newsroom but they’re normally pretty positive or they point out general over-arching problems that he wants to address. We have team meeting and do newscast reviews as well that can devolve more into the type of thing I think the OP is getting from Joe, but even then people try to be professional and diplomatic and you certainly get the opportunity to defend yourself.

        3. Ad Astra*

          Yep. Journalists are some of the worst interpersonal communicators I’ve ever met. Somehow they’re all nearly incapable of explaining their needs, wants, expectations or plans. It is kind of jaw-dropping, really.

    3. Clewgarnet*

      I worked as a reporter on my local paper, while attending college on day-release to get my National Council for the Training of Journalists qualifications.

      Feedback in the workplace was basically non-existent. You knew how good your story was by where it appeared in the paper. Occasionally, if your story was particularly good or bad, the editor would yell a verdict across the office, accompanied by plenty of four-letter words.

      Feedback in college was given verbally in front of the class – around ten people, all of whom were co-workers in the same newspaper group. Nobody considered this to be remotely unusual. It was a learning environment. We could learn from others’ mistakes/successes as much as from our own.

      As the OP is writing for a student paper, I suspect Joe is seeing it purely as a learning environment, not as a real newspaper, and delivering his advice/feedback in those terms. I suppose the OP *could* ask Joe to give his feedback privately, but it would strike me as a bit precious.

      Journalism is a field where everybody can see and judge your work, and you have to get used to it.

      1. TootsNYC*

        also–if the OP gets her feedback privately, she loses the chance to see the comments about her fellow students’ work, and if she didn’t have any “sources that couldn’t be reached,” she might never learn how important that it.

        I think the OP and her fellow students need to try to take their egos out of it, and not view it as “test results,” but see it as, “what is there to learn here?”

        I’m an editor supervising a group of editors. I take mistakes one of my team makes and I show them to everybody. I don’t attach a name, but people often know who it is–and they certainly know if it was not their mistakes. My words are, and my reasoning is, “This is a mistake that any of us could make; I want to alert you to it so that we can make sure we don’t make it again, and we can see what steps we could take so that it doesn’t happen again.”

    4. Kimberlee, Esq*

      It’s also probably worth noting that it’s easier to give one-on-one feedback in a newsroom where everyone is working full time, and you can have a 30 minute all-hands to talk about this kind of stuff. In a student paper where (I imagine) people are in and out, going to classes, having other jobs etc, email just might be the method he chose because it ensures that the feedback is getting out to everyone, and everyone is benefiting from the lessons of everyone else. It’s not ideal, but it doesn’t sound egregious to me (assuming the feedback itself isn’t especially harsh or personal).

  5. Anonsie*

    #3, your personal choices are well and good and all but this is essentially industry standard and for an extremely good reason. When you have across the board flu vaccinations for hospital staff (for those eligible to receive them) you see drops in patient mortality during flu season by a solid third– in residential facilities, it’s been seen to drop by nearly half. As much as I’m also uncomfortable with being required to do it, if I want to work with vulnerable people then this is something I have to trade to do that.

    It’d probably be worthwhile to mention to your direct supervisor that this is something you would need to resign over before you actually do it. It’s possible that there’s a path for exemption that they don’t advertise, or at least then they’ll know the situation.

    1. mander*

      I agree — have a quiet word with your boss and ask if there is some other path you can take before you simply quit. Depending on what your personal reasons are (religious objection to certain ingredients, for example) there might be some kind of concession or alternative that you are currently unaware of.

  6. Gene*

    Sounds like OP2 needs to build a Thunderdome. Cover a cubicle with chicken wire and hang staplers, three hole punches, USB cables, and assorted office supplies from it. Two employees enter, one employee gets trained.

    1. Annyong*

      Can’t we just get BEYOND Thunderdome? +1 for whoever gets my reference…
      Gene: your comment made my night :-)

    2. Lizabeth*

      Why can’t one be trained and then turn around and train the other? That’s what I would do if I had a good relationship with the coworker and the manager can’t seem to wrap her head around “two is better than one”.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        My guess? A manager that plays games like this would probably punish them both for not following her whims.

  7. The Bimmer Guy*

    Not to be mean, but I don’t know why we’re all preaching to OP3. She clearly understands that the vaccinations are (for whatever reason) mandatory, and is willing to withdraw from the application process. She doesn’t need to be told why they’re necessary; she just wants to know how to handle it cleanly.

  8. Typhoid Very*

    “I’m not a quitter, but I’m not willing to give up my patient rights to have a job. How do I handle this? Will it look bad if I quit before I really even get started?”

    And the answer to this question is…?

    I agree that the policy should have been posted so that the OP could have self-selected out of this position.

    I really got sick of getting harassed about immunizations at my last job, most of the time by people who would come in with a 103 fever, sneeze in their hands (if they even covered their mouths at all) and then touch stuff. They would stay all day and accomplish nothing other than infecting every surface in range. Usually it was these folks that I would get the stink eye from when I politely declined having it done at work.

    1. Hlyssande*

      I have a coworker like this. For the last 10+ years, he hasn’t used a single paid sick day (we get 5). And he boasts about that fact.

      And comes in hacking and coughing and making horrible noises when he’s clearly miserable and should be at home sleeping and arrrghhghhghh.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Has anyone ever confronted him about this? “Fergus, you come in here sick and make the rest of us sick. In essence, you don’t use your sick days because you’re forcing us to use ours. Stay home, you jerk.”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My company is HUGE on this. If you are sick, stay the hell home! They don’t say hell, but it’s implied, LOL. It helps that most of us can work from home, so if we’re contagious but still well enough to do a little work, we can.

  9. Student*

    There are some fields that frequently require certain medical treatments. I can understand someone wanting or needing to opting out of those medical treatments, but that generally means opting out of the associated job.

    My job occasionally requires foreign travel and hazardous work. We require immunizations for travel to many countries. If you can’t or won’t get the shot, the company will very likely send someone else. We also require that you get various medical treatments for certain on-the-job injuries, and that you take drug tests, and that you go through some (occasionally extremely unpleasant or invasive) diagnostics if you may have been exposed to certain health hazards. I’ve been through some of these. I’d rather not go through them, but I opted in when I took the job, and I opt to remain in the job.

    These are aimed at controlling risks. Reducing risk of injury, reducing the attendant risk of lawsuit, catching injuries early to reduce their impact/severity, catching drug use that can correlate with other risky behaviors the company doesn’t want.

    I guess I’m just saying that this kind of thing is not unique to the healthcare field. You may need to accept certain impositions on your healthcare if you wish to remain in your current job. You’re free to decide you don’t want the job, but you can’t usually take an al a carte approach to job responsibilities, risks, and duties. It’s unfortunate that this didn’t come up earlier for you, but you may just need to take this as a lesson to ask about this specific issue on future job interviews in the field.

  10. deevee*

    To Op3, You may need to look for jobs in smaller offices or private practices. I’ve never been asked about my vaccinations when I worked in private practices but for larger institutions and hospitals I needed titer levels and all vaccinations up to date.

    1. rando*

      Really? Yikes. I never thought to ask the vaccination rates or policies at my doctor’s offices because I assumed that anyone in healthcare would be vaccinated. Add that to the list if questions to ask providers.

      1. hermit crab*

        Wow, yikes is right. My dad used to have a private practice (ob/gyn), and you bet your buttons everyone was vaccinated. As a kid, I remember refusing to get a flu shot unless a particular member of his staff gave it to me, haha.

      2. AnonInSC*


        My child’s pediatrician’s office has a form you have to sign understanding their vaccination policy (kids need them and will get them if they are patients – if not, they can find another provider). I love it. I feel safer, and those parents who don’t want to vaccinate know up front too.

        Based on that – I do feel confident that the staff has had vaccinations, including the flu shot.

    2. Kat M*

      I was always required to be up-to-date when working in small clinics.

      Now I work in early childhood education, and they’re also more than happy to let people go for not getting their vacs, including a flu shot. It’s becoming industry standard in plenty of places outside of healthcare.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        That’s interesting. I remember overhearing my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher explain that she never got a flu shot because “even when I did, I get the flu every year anyway.” And then proceed to describe a stomach illness, which is not the flu. :-/

        1. Ann*

          For some reason, some people seem to think that “flu” is a catch-all term for any condition that makes them feel bad during the winter months. Very strange.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            “Stomach flu” is an unfortunate myth. People don’t understand that influenza is a respiratory disease – if you just spent a day vomiting, you were quite miserable but you did not have the flu.

            I heard a speech by someone in public health who said she wished she could give everyone the flu for just one day, because if they understood how bad it really was, and how their minor but unpleasant respiratory disease was NOT the flu, they’d all get vaccinated.

            1. Hlyssande*

              I had influenza in college and it was miserable. I had to fight the health center’s nurses who refused to sign a withdrawal form “for a cough”. I was so sick I literally could not read because my eyes couldn’t focus on text. Thankfully my local doctor was happy to push it through.

              I was trying to withdraw from a class that required reading a novel a night (philosophy in literature) and was two days from the midterm.

            2. Not Karen*

              I have had the flu and can tell you with confidence that as someone who is terrified of needles that I would much rather have the flu than a shot.

              1. Kristen*

                I used to say this too, and then one year, I got the flu. It was truly awful. The only time I’ve ever felt worse was the time I had strep throat. I was sick for several days with horrible aches all over my body and a 103* fever. I had every blanket in the house on me, including an electric one, and I was still shivering constantly. And I was a young, healthy 22-year-old at the time. Now I get the flu shot every year. It’s seriously the shortest, least painful vaccine there is. And it’s often offered for free or very low cost. Just go get the shot. It’s seriously not worth it to get the flu, or even worse, to give the flu to other people.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Same here. I had plenty of times in the past when I didn’t (mostly couldn’t) and here’s the deal–getting sick meant I either missed work, which I couldn’t afford, or went to work IN FOOD SERVICE with a contagious illness. (Rant for another day there.)

                2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

                  Right there with you. I didn’t get the flu shot the first couple of years my employer at the time offered them (this was before they were so widely available and I was largely uneducated about the importance of getting the flu vaccine) and then I got hit with the worst case of the flu much like you describe. I was in so much pain from the body aches I would scream if anyone accidentally brushed up against me, and I have a relatively high pain tolerance. I didn’t know it was possible to hurt that badly without physical injury – my joints were so inflamed that bending my knees and elbows was pure agony. I was unable to get out of bed for nearly four days straight and my fever at its highest spiked 104 degrees.

                  Needless to say, I’m first in line for my flu shot every year now.

                3. Not Karen*

                  Just go get the shot.

                  I appreciate you completely disregarding my phobia as genuine. It’s not like those of us with invisible illnesses and disabilities get told all the time that our experiences aren’t valid. :)

                4. catsAreCool*

                  One year, when I didn’t get the flu shot, I got the flu, and then it turned into bronchitis. Not fun. I get the flu shot every year now.

              2. Amadeo*

                I’ve also recently had the flu, and even with that memory fresh (and no fear of needles, it’s not the needles that get me) I still pass on the shot. The shots make me almost as sick as the flu itself. If they were once every few years, like tetanus (which also makes me miserable) I’d do it without complaint, but otherwise I’m deliberately making myself ill every year when I’m not likely to catch the flu at all as I do not work in health care.

              3. Misty*

                For people whose only hesitation about getting the flu shot is that they’re needle-phobic–and for whatever reason, nasal FluMist is not appealing or not an option–you can also get intradermal flu shots, which have a tiny, tiny, tiny needle you can barely feel. My office gives free flu shots every year, and the first year they offered FluZone Intradermal the compliance rate *skyrocketed*–we used up every dose. Doc’s offices and some pharmacies like CVS offer it. Will put the product link in the next post.

            3. Clewgarnet*

              A runny nose is not flu.

              Last time I had flu, I ended up in hospital on intravenous antibiotics for the resulting chest infection, and it took a month before I was back at work. (Ironically, that happened the one year I bothered to get the flu jag, because my employer was offering it on-site, free of charge.)

            4. fposte*

              This is a little misleading, though; you can actually have a mild or even asymptomatic influenza, and it seems like it’s more common than the prostrating effect (it varies somewhat with the strain). That’s part of why the disease spreads so brilliantly–there are people with it who are walking around amid the populace.

            5. DMented Kitty*

              I had a case of dengue fever when I was in high school. I missed finals, but good thing the school allowed me to take a “catch up” exam when I recovered. I was off for two weeks.

              It started with a minor weakness and soreness throughout my body, which escalated into a fever. My parents thought it’s just a very bad case of flu, but I never had a cold, and the fever just remained an average of 103 for a couple days then I was getting delirious and not really getting sleep because I’m so warm and sore all over. They took me to our doctor and I fainted while he checked my vitals. When I came to he decided to get a blood count – my platelets were running low. He says if it doesn’t improve in the next few days it’s dangerous. He can’t prescribe much drugs and I didn’t recall drinking all sorts of medicine because he really can’t do much besides recommend lots of fluids and rest.

              My fever finally receded, but my temp suddenly dropped below 98 and I got shivers for a day. Then the nosebleeds started. For a week. I can’t lie down the entire day so I had to carry around a bowl of ice water with a towel because my nose won’t stop bleeding. The doctor had to monitor my blood daily at this point since my platelets dropped critically low. He prescribed me nosebleed meds (I guess it’s more a coagulant?), and after a week thankfully the nosebleed stopped, and my platelet count slowly went back to normal (my fingers finally took a break from being pierced every day).

              I’m just thankful I didn’t end up in the ER. Worst experience ever.

          2. Ife*

            The reason people think “flu” is a catch-all term probably is because that’s what they learned in their childhoods and no one set them straight. I made it up until my mid-20s before I finally learned that “flu” is not actually that illness where you throw up and have a sore throat (I still don’t know what to call that, because in my mind “cold” means respiratory symptoms only, no vomiting). I mean, everyone I know still calls it the flu. I now try to say “stomach flu” or “stomach bug” now, but gosh it can be hard not to slip up occasionally.

            We probably need some kind of public health awareness campaign, the way we have stuff about breast cancer/heart attacks/”cover your cough.”

        2. Hornswoggler*

          ” a stomach illness, which is not the flu”

          Slightly off-topic – I’ve seen and heard references to “stomach flu” in US books and TV and I’d be interested to know what is meant by it. In the UK, ‘flu’ means both proper, full-blown, life-threatening influenza, and a catch-all for a really bad cold that’s too bad to be called just a cold and keeps you off work for a week or longer. The common denominator is the upper respiratory tract, and nothing to do with the stomach.

          Thanks in advance for any information.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            You’re correct. Influenza is a respiratory disease. Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. refer to any gastrointestinal illness that involves diarrhea and vomiting as “stomach flu,” which isn’t an actual medical diagnosis. I don’t know where the term came from, but it leads to uninformed people thinking their flu vaccine didn’t work because they got the “stomach flu.”

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yup, and people also use it as the catch-all for a nasty cold too. I think a lot of people don’t know the difference between a bad cold and the flu until they’ve really truly had the flu, because it really is a level beyond. I had H1N1 back in ’09 and holy crap. I wasn’t in mortal danger, but I was more miserable than I can ever remember being.

              Around that time, I heard this joke: “If you want to know if you have a cold or the flu, imagine that someone just told you there’s a $100 bill on your front porch. If you get up and get it, you have a cold.”

              1. Kat*

                ^THIS. I’m a former pharma employee, and every time a coworker in my new workplace says they have the flu, I do an eye-roll. You have a runny nose and are sneezing, whoop dee do. You have a cold or bad allergies. If you had the flu, you’d be laying prostrate and whimpering.

                I had swine flu during that fiasco and I was in bed for 4 days. I don’t mean I was watching TV or reading in bed, I mean I was dead to the world and unconscious. THANK GOD my boyfriend was very kind, otherwise I would have been starving/dehydrated. I could not get out of bed; I just didn’t have the strength.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Yes! I was too enervated to read, which is how I knew I was really hard up. I could do two things: sleep, and lie around in a daze. I was lucky I’d bought a bunch of ice cream right before I got sick, because my throat was so painful it was the only thing I could stand to eat.

                2. Knitting Cat Lady*

                  I lost three days to a really bad intestinal bug.

                  40C fever, lots of trips to the bathroom. If I wasn’t on the loo I was dozing in bed.

                  Couldn’t read, couldn’t watch TV. Music was too complicated. Audiobook was a soothing background noise, even if I didn’t take in a word.

                  Took me more than a week to get back to normal.

                  Still wasn’t the flu, though!

                3. Katie the Fed*

                  I had swine flu (actually I did get the vaccine that year, too) and I honestly thought I was going to die at one point. I called my mom just to make sure she knew I loved her (without saying exactly that).

                4. Observer*

                  That’s just not true. I know that the flu is a respiratory illness. But not everyone is that badly hit by it. Yes, some people are, and large swathes of the population can be seriously endangered by the worse strains. But sometimes it’s not a lot worse that a cold. And, yes, BTDT – and been diagnosed by my doctor. Bad enough to stay home, but I have been MUCH sicker.

                5. Tau*

                  Swine flu high-five! I also remember mainly lying in bed sleeping a lot for, like, five days. The occasional trips to the bathroom were heroic exertions of effort. I got it while staying with a friend in Hungary*, and I vaguely remember her calling various doctor relatives to figure out what to do/whether they should get me to a hospital despite my lack of health insurance in said country/whether they ought to get my parents to fly in/etc.

                  *this is my “how I came to visit Budapest for a week and saw almost none of it” story :(

                6. A grad student*

                  @Observer- yeah, the only time I got the flu (went to the health center and tested positive, at any rate), I was a freshman in college and was so intimidated by my professor that I went to lab anyway. Not the best idea, as I was miserable and exhausted and it completely winded me to walk up to my 3rd-floor dorm room, but it was worth it to me at the time.

                7. Observer*

                  @Elizabeth West, that’s quite possibly true. The point just is that sometimes flu hits worse than others.

                  People do need to realize, though, that it really CAN be serious and even fatal.

              2. Cathy*

                RN here. I had the H1N1 too and for a couple of days I *prayed* I would die! Temperature over 104°, and pretty much unconscious in the bed. I would literally talk myself into getting up long enough to go to the bathroom and back – that was a serious journey to make.
                The only times I’ve had the flu (religiously get the flu shot every year) were 2 years when I went to conferences with a lot of folks from all over the nation and got exposed to a flu bug from out of my state. The local herd immunity didn’t cover me those times.

            2. Natalie*

              Curiosity googling didn’t find anything definitive, but I did see some suggestions that it may have come from children. I guess children do frequently have vomiting from actual influenza. Seems plausible.

            3. Ife*

              This has been bothering me since I learned the difference between influenza and the illness that makes you vomit/sore throat/ache all over. If it isn’t called the stomach flu, what is it called??

              1. Talvi*

                You know, I wonder there might be a variety of things that qualify as what we conventionally think of as the stomach flu. That said, I’m thinking norovirus perhaps?

      2. blackcat*


        It wasn’t “required” at the school that I used to work at, but it was “Strongly Encouraged.” It was noted in a file if you didn’t get the flu shot. Shots were provided on the school grounds by our health insurance company (they sent a couple of nurses for two days). One thing that was nice is that, because it was run by the insurance company, anyone with the same insurance could get the shot at the school. Given that this company had a near monopoly in the area, this meant that a HUGE number of parents & kids ended up getting shots at the school too. Parents loved how easy & fast it was.

        One year, the people who failed to show up to either of the flu shot days got visits *while teaching* from the nurse with the shot. That was uncool.

        1. Violet Fox*

          I have to admit that the idea of employers making blanket health care decisions for employees bothers me, especially since to get out of it most likely employees would have to give up private medical information that they might not otherwise want to give their employer.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Don’t think of it as making blanket health care decisions for employees. Think of it as decisions for customers/clients. As in, we’ve decided not to expose you to people who haven’t been immunized.

          2. blackcat*

            I think the health insurance company gave the school a list that had “Opt out” and “Shot given/Exempt” so there wasn’t a separation between the people who had a medical reason why not (which the insurance co would know anyways) and the people who did get the shot. But I’m kinda curious how this didn’t run afoul of HIPAA (perhaps I signed something? That’s entirely possible).

            I will say I appreciated having a culture of vaccination at the school. A lot of the high school kids liked being able to go get a shot in their own (I think parental consent/presence was required for <16 years old, but most kids I taught were 16+). I thought their enjoyment of nascent adulthood was cute.

  11. Macedon*

    #1. In my experience, newsroom practices can be pretty public, other than Serious Mess-ups, which get handled behind closed doors. The wires are esp like this, since you’re timed down to the second fraction against the competition (this is not hyperbole) and there is no time for private feedback beyond your yearly review.

    But your guy is too separate from the process to act in an editorial capacity – he’s not in the back stage, he’s more like a malcontent reader. I’d urge you to think of him like that: an online commenter. They never have any idea what went down, whom you reached out to, and always have “suggestions” too. I think the only indirectly “good” thing he might be doing is toughening your skin. Alas, I’m pretty sure that is not what he is paid for, through your tuition. So, speak up. Ask him to replace your daily feedback with a 15-min weekly session where you go over your stuff 1-on-1 with him and it’s more of a dialogue.

    1. TootsNYC*

      He’s not an online commenter. His office is in the newsroom, and he’s there to advise the students as they create the newspaper. He’s got credentials of some kind.

      Think of him as the ombudsman, the person you’d go to, to say, “What can we learn from you, in the context of this story.”

      And going over just your stuff, 1-on-1? You don’t get to learn from Sally’s mistakes, and she doesn’t get to learn from yours.

      I agree w/ the supervisor who said, “Don’t take them so seriously.” In other words, don’t take those comments PERSONALLY. Take them ACADEMICALLY.

      It’s like test scores–they really shouldn’t be a “you’re bad!” / “You’re great!” sort of thing. They should be a “is there something more you need to learn?” thing. That’s what this is.

      1. Macedon*

        Except he’s not up to speed with the process of creating copy, he’s not part of the editorial process. That’s like giving someone a dish to taste and them not taking an interest in figuring out what went into it, but still issuing a verdict. “It’s salty!” is a helpful comment (the type anyone reading a story can return), but not as helpful as, “Okay, so I see you only had a giant block of salt to work with, after pathetically pleading at the next door neighbour’s door for a bit of pepper. Here’s what you should have done in this situation / what you can try out next time.”

        1-on-1 would help OP generate a dialogue to talk Joe through the reporting issues she’s going through. Yes, no one would learn from her mistakes. But it sounds as if no one is learning much from anyone’s mistakes anyway.

        1. TootsNYC*

          He understands the process, I would presume, because I’m guessing he’s somewhat qualified to be an adviser to a student publication at a college. And he has an office **in the newsroom.**

          He doesn’t need to know all their excuses to be able to say, “this is a dangler,” “You don’t present an opposing viewpoint,” “no interview with the victim,” or “need a better transition here,” or “You didn’t talk about funding.”

          And given that there are a LOT of students working on this paper, they will all benefit from hearing those comments. They’re fair critiques.

          AFTER his critique is the time for everyone on the staff to say, “Hmm, you couldn’t reach the source; but Joe says that’s a flaw in the story. What would we do next time?”

          I worked on a publication that was trying to improve itself, and the MOST FRUSTRATING thing of all was to say, “This story is the one that came late. Why was that?” in a “can we figure out what we can learn from it” tone and framing, and to be met with, “Oh, but they didn’t call us back” excuse-making.

          Stop making excuses. Learn.
          And if nobody will spend the time with you to coach you through learning from Joe’s critique, do it yourself. Or grab one or two fellow students and talk it out. Go find the person who didn’t include the source, and say, “Hey, I wanted to talk about that with you–tell me what happened, i want to figure out if there’s something I can take away from it, too.”

      2. Carolina*

        I wanted to add to this that sometimes newsroom feedback HAS to be public because, oftentimes, screwups are the fault of multiple parties.

        The reporter may have failed to call a source –but the copyeditor, page designer and managing editor all saw it, and didn’t fix it before it went to print. Or, a page designer may have written a bad headline–but a copy editor didn’t flag it, and the headline was based on bad communication from the reporter.

        A newspaper is a team, and feedback really does need to go to the whole team.

        1. TootsNYC*


          If the source was omitted, more than one person blew it.
          If there’s a danger, the writer may have put it in, the city/news editor missed it, and the copyeditor missed it.

  12. hbc*

    #2: Agree with your coworker that whoever will gets trained will cede the next decision like this to the other. Agree that the person who gets trained will train the other on the billing when possible. Flip a coin. Congratulate each other on being better managers than the person with that title.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Or say: “I have seniority. I’ll do it.” Just state that, flat-out. Claim it. It’s a fact.

      And move forward that way. Carpe diem!

  13. Another Emily*

    OP2, what if you and your coworker refuse to do your manager’s job for her and put the decision back on her, citing office morale for the reason?
    OP3 is there an alternative to the flu shot your employer would accept such as wearing a mask all the time?
    (Posting from my phone and not sure if my other comment went through. Sorry if this is a duplicate.)

  14. babblemouth*

    #2 Reminds me of a situation where the opposite happened: a job that no one really wanted to do came up (it involved working for a full week-end on short notice, when all of us had personal plans we couldn’t change). Manager asked who wanted to do it. No one volunteered. Manager then proceeded to berate us for not taking initiative. Still no one volunteered. He ranted for 30 minutes before picking someone.
    He basically wanted us to volunteer for shit work, and then be grateful for it or something.

    Most of us left the team with a the next few months. It was kind of a last straw moment.

    1. No more nonesense*

      I am always being put in this situation. Boss always wants me to volunteer to take on time-consuming and inane projects that will result in me having to stay late but have no career benefits to me. In the past, when I’ve done this there has been no appreciation or recognition for it. When opportunities for interesting and relevant professional development and projects come up, I am never even considered for it. Being helpful and flexible has gotten me nowhere and so I have stopped taking on these things.

  15. Incognito*

    I think the best thing for you to do is just resign and state your reason. I don’t think there is a way for you to do it without looking foolish to this employer, but no one else has to know about it so I doubt that should be a concern. I doubt they are going to change their policy or hiring process as a result of your resignation because it is so standard in healthcare for there to be mandatory flu vaccines.

    I’m not being snarky when I suggest you change fields. Although Alison provided a link to a “backlash” and I acknowledge that there is a small segment of people who are pushing back neither the law or science are on your side and you will run into this over and over.

    1. Talvi*

      Me too! I had a summer internship at the Smithsonian some years ago; I’d love to be able to do some of this volunteer transcription.

    2. Myrin*

      Right? This is actually something I’d be very qualified for if it were in German but alas, there doesn’t seem to be anything like this in my country. :(
      (And I saw that one of the texts on the Smithsonian’s project site actually is in in German but it’s sadly not my time period and might not be able to do that. Really, why doesn’t there seem to be even one such opportunity in Germany?)

      1. Beth*

        Archives here in Canada often get requests for translations, if that’s true in other countries they might be another place that would appreciate volunteers with your skills

      2. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        Maybe state archives or historical societies where a lot of German immigrants settled (Pennsylvania, North Colorado, Central Texas)? It’s not uncommon to have diaries of settlers or them writing to government officials. The handwriting can be problematic, however.

      1. Triangle Pose*

        I just signed up for a project because of you- got the confirmation email and will start tonight. Thank you so much for posting this!

    3. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Interestingly establishing a volunteer program to do transcription of handwritten documents and oral histories is part of a professional poster I am proposing in the upcoming week. As an aside, Family Sarch and Ancestry have crowd sourcing transcription tools that volunteers can use to transcribe old documents in bulk.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Will you keep us informed through the appropriate open thread? I suspect there are many like me who would be interested.

        1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

          You don’t know how happy that makes me. I’ve been trying to promote remote volunteer work in libraries/archives/museums for a while now. I think it’s a great way to recruit volunteers who live far away or can’t volunteer during regular business hours.

          I’ll try to mention it in the open thread when I hear more. Friday’s tend to be packed for me, so my handful of open thread posts get buried.

      2. Annie Moose*

        I do some transcription for FamilySearch every once in awhile–it’s fascinating. All different sorts of documents, too, from censuses to death certificates to military records to Ellis Island immigration records. It’s pretty easy to get into, you download their application, then use it to download records to transcribe. The records are categorized by language, place of origin, and difficulty level, and if you download a batch and find them too difficult (I’m useless with really old cursive! I can go back about 150 years but past that I have a very hard time), you can just get another one.

        I’ve use FamilySearch for researching my genealogy, so I figure I should give back.

        1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

          Immigration history, which family history is at its core, is my speciality. I would often index with Family Seacrh (and some with Ancestry) to familiarize myself with a variety of resources. How else would I know the scans of the 1940 Federal Census in Oklahoma are super faint?

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      If this sort of work is your jam, there’s also Project Gutenberg, which is an open source, volunteer project to convert public domain books into e-format (and now audio as well!). www dot projectgutenberg dot com

    5. Ife*

      There might be local opportunities to do transcription/editing work too! I volunteered at a Veterans Museum that was transcribing interviews with local veterans. It’s very fascinating work, and you learn so much!

  16. Bend & Snap*

    #3 when your “personal choice” conflicts with standard professional requirements, you’re in the wrong line of work.

    Resign immediately so they can pick up the search before the existing candidate pool goes cold.

  17. OP 4*

    I did ask the interviewee to email his resume in the initial email exchange. He did not. I really appreciated the Slate article and hadn’t thought about unconscious bias. This might be my out for future encounters. I do a lot of professional development and mentorship within my area expertise that is probably time better spent. Of course if he drops my name in the other department, I would probably tell them how unimpressed I was with his presence and judgement. I do have a hard enough time telling our student workers that leggings aren’t pants so it is doubtful that I would tell a stranger that they might need a bath.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      If you couch it in terms of general advice, it might work. “Interviewees (formal interview, informational interview, whatever) should look and smell ‘shower fresh’ when meeting with their interviewer.”

      I tell this to students in interview workshops all the time because sometimes their hygiene is…dubious. And then I tell them that using half a bottle of cologne is no substitute for a shower because
      1) you have B.O. plus cologne fighting it out in your interviewer’s nose
      2) a lot of people are allergic/sensitive to perfume-y smells
      3) too much cologne can sometimes read as ‘alcohol’ and they will think you are drunk or were on a bender the night before (true story!)

    2. MBA*

      This makes me a little sad because I don’t think one bad apple isn’t indicative of the entire bunch. I have several pending requests I’ve sent out for informational interviews that I’m really hoping to get responses on. While I am actively job searching and would love any leads, this isn’t the reason I’m requesting these interviews. I ask for them because they give me a wealth of personal information about the field and industry that I just can’t get from an article online. Knowing how someone truly feels about the work they do, being able to read their body language and have back and forth questions that help me understand where my skills might fit in is so hugely helpful. As a first generation college student, I’ve really been struggling on how to position myself for the roles I want and I’m so grateful for every info interview I have. I’ve talked to people at companies and in industries I’m not very interested in and even these conversations are helpful!

      (PS- I go dressed in business casual bordering on formal to most info interviews unless I know it’s a super casual company/person. His behavior was NOT normal.)

    3. Laurel Gray*

      Personally, I don’t think anyone should be reaching out to professionals for informational interview requests if they are not 101% open to on the spot criticisms. I think pointing out that he didn’t fulfill a simple request like emailing his interview and showing up in rags are two major points that a person will probably learn from best in the moment. Sure, sometimes it may go from informational interview to a constructive feedback session but in the long run the guy will be better off.

      I hate that people like this guy taint the idea of informational interviews in the eyes of experienced professionals and then people like MBA above seem to know the “rules” and would benefit from having them during their job search. Although it is through a connection that his parent has through your husband that got him this informational interview so I am rolling my eyes that he wasn’t given any minimum guidance about it all on that end (his folks).

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Honestly, I think it’s reasonable to take a very hard line on preparation because it’s such a sign of whether the meeting will be worth the time or not. When you asked him to email you his resume and he didn’t, a few days before the meeting,I would have emailed him this: “I don’t think I have your resume yet. I’ll need it by the day before we meet so that I have time to look it over — or we can try to reschedule if you prefer.” But not doing the prep you asked him = no meeting.

  18. NJ Anon*

    #2 This is easy. You both tell her you both want to do it so she has to decide. If she doesn’t it doesn’t get done while she’s out of the office. Either that or you go to her individually and tell her why it should be you.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I like this: you go to her individually and tell her why it should be you.

      Go to her on your own and say, “I want to do this, because I’ve been here longer. When should we meet?”

  19. Doriana Gray*

    OP 1: Is this an actual job where you get paid, or is your paper set up more like a class? Because this is the sort of thing I wouldn’t have bristled at when I was in college – public critiques were commonplace both on my school paper and in every creative writing workshop I ever took. It was sometimes embarrassing for people, especially since most of the time we were unable to speak when getting said feedback, but the thought process was that doing this would help everyone see what some people were already doing well (so that those people who weren’t doing something well could then know what well looked like and could apply something similar to their own work) and what didn’t work so well if at all.

    However, if this is a paid job then yeah – I’d probably bristle. Unless you work in television writing for a network or cable drama or comedy where this kind of open assessment is common (and can sometimes be cruel depending on who your showrunner is), public critiques of your staff’s work is weird and inappropriate for all the reasons Alison pointed out. My most recent former boss had a bad habit of doing this (not a journalist). She would write us emails about our file handling telling us what she thought about it (which typically was how she thought we’d screwed something up because we didn’t do something the way she would have), and then she’d turn around and talk to us about it on the floor in perfect earshot of pretty much everyone in our division, completely defeating the purpose of the email and embarrassing us in the process. All she accomplished by doing this was pissing us off (a few of us were actively job searching) and making it less likely that we would use independent judgment when making decisions, which meant more work for her that she came to resent.

    Work generally is not a workshop where the purpose of the thing is to teach as many people as possible at once how to do a certain thing. Treating it as such is kind of a lazy way of managing.

    1. k*

      My thoughts too! I wondered it as the reactions were about context. In my critiques, that was so often the biggest student response. I think it just takes time to understand that it’s not really an acceptable way to judge quality, but a good way to better understand working methods. Also that sometimes you will produce not very good work. Don’t make it ok through context, just move on!

    2. Anonymouish*

      “Work generally is not a workshop”

      Fair enough, but writing almost definitely is. You’re judged based on people who have gone before you, and whether or not you’re up to their standards, regardless of why or why not. The goal in journalism is always to ‘get there’, where there is the next level of respect, facility, articulation.

      The other thing which all journalism students have heard-to-death but which is still relevant is that they will need very, very thick skins–sources yell at you, stories get killed after months of work, and yes, online commenters. Part of what Joe’s doing is preparing them for that. In my opinion, toughening up can never be started too early.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Former journalism student here – I know all about it. That’s why I asked if OP 1 was working on a student run (nonpaid) paper that was more like a class, or if her paper was being managed like an actual paper. Because if it’s the former, then yeah – deal with the public critiques. It’s par for the course. But if it’s a paid job, then that’s when it’s probably better to give specific feedback directly to the person who needs it as opposed to sending a staff-wide email.

    3. themmases*

      This is a good point. I had a class last summer where we were all publicly critiqued and I loved it and learned so much. (It was a class on giving scientific presentations, and the instructor really was a great speaker.) However, in those cases I had just seen the person’s presentation that was being critiqued so I could see exactly what he was talking about. The comments were more detailed than ‘could be better’, too.

      Regardless of the format of the paper, I think very brief comments on other people’s work that the rest of the staff might not have even read are probably the worst of both worlds: embarrassing to the recipient and unhelpful to both the recipient and the audience.

  20. IrishGirl*

    Over here (ROI) it’s common to require specified vaccinations to enrol in certain healthcare programmes at universities, like medicine or dentistry. It seems odd that they didn’t communicate the flu shot requirement to OP3 at the beginning of the process.

    1. Puffy*

      I wonder if maybe it is SO common in the field/area that they didn’t feel the need to mention it. I’m not a health care worker but I know that if you want a job at the hospital or any health care facility that you need to get your shots!

      1. KR*

        I think it’s pretty common in the Northeastern US too. My mom had to get TB shots, tested for TB every certain number of months and all the flu/illness shots that were available. She was a nurses aid and worked with older patients.

      2. Knitting Cat Lady*

        That was probably it.

        Over here (Germany) pretty much every health care provider mandates up to date vaccinations, including the flu shot, from all employees.

        It’s industry standard.

        Just like wearing no rings and grabable jewellery is for nurses.

    2. KAZ2Y5*

      She may be older (like me!) when that was not a requirement for any type of healthcare program. I have always gotten the flu vaccine when it was offered, but I am only now working in a hospital that requires it. My previous hospital strongly suggested it, but did allow you to refuse. Anyone having contact with patients would have to wear a mask if they didn’t get the flu vaccine.

    3. Lia*

      Here too, at least at the research university where I work. Students majoring in health fields (nursing, medicine, etc) who come into contact with patients are required to complete immunizations, a health screening (TB at least), and the like before starting clinicals. The students are strongly encouraged to get these requirements out of the way before clinicals start, though.

    4. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      #3 – Benefit of the Doubt: It’s possible that OP didn’t know this was industry standard. Example: when I started at The Worst Job Ever, I found out on Day 1 that I’d have to get a TB test and a Hepatitis shot. I’d never worked in healthcare before and I wasn’t working in direct patient care, so I had no idea that an office worker would be required to get these things. I mean a TB test isn’t a big deal but a vaccine can be. It was just another item in the long list of “had they told me in the interview” I would not have taken that job.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      Not to say that this is what happened with the OP, but we have had applicants who didn’t hear a darn thing during their interviews. We had the equivalent of a Morgue Attendant position where the applicant went through the whole application process and even took a day to shadow another attendant. But on their first day on the job, they had no idea that they were going to be working in the morgue. It was the job title.
      There should be a psychological study on how someone can want a job so bad that they don’t hear anything that is contradictory to their ideal job.
      Again, not saying that is what happened to the OP, but it is interesting.

  21. Rubyrose*

    #3 – just went to work for a hospital system and I agree with your pain. First, I would strongly suggest you check out your state laws, partly for this position and for future ones. There may be something there that you can use in talking to your current employer about this issue. I discovered that one of the reasons my hospital did the push they did was because of the law. This knowledge may direct you in being better able to target organizations that will be more lenient in their policies. It sounds like you have a philosophical objection; some web searches can come up with some suggestions on how to approach this.
    I was fortunate. My physician took my word on my reactions to the shot from 17 years ago, signed the medical exemption form, and talked to one of our staff physicians whose job it was to reject as many medical exemptions as she could. Good luck!

    1. TL -*

      If the OP has a medical reason not to take it – allergies or immuno-compromised, she should definitely get the appropriate forms signed and in.
      But otherwise, I think fighting this is banging her head against a brick wall. The reasons for requiring immunizations are so aligned with a hospital’s mission that fighting them isn’t going to do any good and in fact, avoiding the shot could endanger patient health, depending on her job. I’m with the other commentors who think she should look at other fields or private practice if she doesn’t want the flu vaccine – hospitals are not a good match for her.

    2. Dot Warner*

      If OP3 has a philosophical objection to vaccines, (s)he should leave healthcare. It’s bad enough when people like Jenny McCarthy spread false information about vaccines; the idea of someone who actually is a health care professional trying to crap all over the greatest public health triumph of the last 200 years is appalling. OP3 would be harming patients not just with his/her germs, but with wrong information.

      1. Kelly L.*

        We don’t know if OP3 is going to preach her beliefs, though. If she keeps them to herself, then it’s only the germs and not the info that we need to worry about.

        1. Dot Warner*

          We don’t know that she won’t, either. If I were a hiring manager, that’s not a risk I’d be willing to take.

        2. Bend & Snap*

          I don’t know how being anti vax can NOT affect the care one provides to patients. Even if the lips are zipped on the issue itself, there’s surely some fallout with assessment, decision making, counsel, etc.

          A healthcare professional buying into bunk science scares the bejesus out of me, and I wouldn’t want such a person involved in my care.

          1. Violet Fox*

            There is a big difference between being not big on the flu shot and being an anti-vaxer. I live in a small western European country where flu vaccinations for the general population, or people who are outside of high-risk groups are just not done. They aren’t considered to be effective enough, cover the strains we get here enough, or early enough in the year (early start to flu season due to the climate), for the health care system (single payer) to incur the cost for anyone outside of high-risk groups.

            On the other hand we do have rather employee-friendly labor laws that include things like mandatory paid sick days the first number of which in a block are self-reported so, no having to go spread germs just to get a doctor’s note.

            I realise that flu shots for everyone, all the time, no matter what is the accepted wisdom in the US, but it isn’t everywhere.

            1. TL -*

              But…this person is refusing a flu shot while working in health care. It’s a little different than your average Jane refusing a flu shot or forgetting to get it or just not caring if she gets it or not. If you’re working with high-risk populations (or if you’re working adjacent to them) and you’re not willing to get the shot, that’s a whole different kettle of fish when it comes to refusing vaccines.

              1. Rubyrose*

                Op3 says she works in health care, but not how. Yes, may be direct patient care, or near patients. Or perhaps, like me, works in an IT department three blocks away from the hospital campus, where we never, ever see patients. Or somewhere in between. We don’t know.

            2. fposte*

              It’s an area where it tends to be treated as very black and white, that’s for sure. I think Americans are particularly inclined toward that when it comes to health matters.

              1. Violet Fox*

                The level of black and white is actually pretty weird and worrying to watch from the outside. I think it also is maybe something that polarises people, and makes it hard for someone to even be able to figure out how to ask a question about employment policies without, well a lot of what is going on here.

          2. Rubyrose*

            The same can be said of health professionals letting their personal views color their assessments and counsel based on a variety of personal beliefs: use/non use of birth control, end of life care and preferences, cultural beliefs and practices. If we filter for everything, there will be no one providing care.

      2. hermit crab*

        Well, ONE of the greatest public health triumphs, anyway. Modern sewage collection/treatment could arguably be the greatest — I know this is off topic, but you said “crap all over…” so I couldn’t resist. :)

  22. Puffy*

    #1: I actually think Joe is doing everyone a favour with this… journalism involves a number of skills and it is important not only to learn from your own work/mistakes but from others as well. It doesn’t seem like it is anything personal, just a critique of articles. If Sally wrote a terrible piece it would be beneficial to everyone to know why it was bad so that they can all avoid it in the future, same goes it there was an outstanding piece.

    In one of my writing classes we had to post all of our assignments online for the entire class to see and the professor would give feedback in the same format. Sure it was embarrassing if you royally screwed something up, but it was an excellent learning opportunity as you can see where other went wrong and what they did right.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I’m hoping Joe does things like, “Nice lead–very succinct” and “great interview w/ the main source–we should have included the opposition. If we can’t reach them, indicate that.”

      Positive as well as negative. If he’s any good, he will. Negatives are easier to find, and often more powerful in their effect. And negatives are what you grow from.

  23. ScarletInTheLibrary*

    5: I’m assuming this is transcription and adding subject tags. There is a difference. Transcription should go on a CV, while adding subject tags like one would for a user created level for a video game should not. If it is transcription, then you can see if you can link to the transcription (especially if it’s on their web site). Or keep a copy of the transcription so people can see samples of your work.

    1. OP 5*

      That’s a great idea, thank you! And yes, it’s transcription of the works themselves, not just subject tagging.

  24. Oryx*

    I’m going to try and express this without telling OP #3 *why* the flu shot may be mandatory, but I also suspect OP #3 is looking at this through a very narrow lens — specifically, she talks about *her* patients rights without considering the rights of the patients — that is, the actual sick, possibly autoimmune compromised people — she will be working with every single day.

    Sometimes our personal beliefs butt heads with the mandated workplace policies that are put in place for the safety of all involved. When I worked as the prison librarian, I had to practice censorship regarding the titles my patrons were allowed to read. It went against every single fiber of my personal beliefs regarding access to information and pretty much went against every reason I became a librarian at all, but the job required it so I had a choice: quit or suck it up and do the job. I sucked it up for as long as I could before finally leaving (that wasn’t why I left, but it is why I no longer work in prisons).

    I suspect that if you continue to work in the healthcare field, this will come up again. Just like if I continued to work in prisons, I would have had to put my personal beliefs aside because it was required by my job. I can’t tell you what you should do, but if you want to work in this field than you may have to reconsider your position, assuming you aren’t against the shot for health exemption reasons.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I love this framing of the issue: OP3 needs to consider the rights of her (often immunocompromised) potential patients to, y’know, not get sick and possibly die because she made a “personal choice” not to follow standard precautions of the healthcare industry.

    2. Bwmn*

      I think this is actually a much better way of looking at the issue rather than bringing up how the OP may be putting patients at risk. From my years working at a hospital, I have never met a workforce more inclined to come to work sick than the doctors/nurses who worked on the pediatric cancer wings – so issues of flu shots and not exposing patients, I think that’s more theory than practice.

      However, I also recognize that when we do have strong personal feelings about *things* it may rub up against the jobs that are otherwise desirable. I started off working in small nonprofits that for the most part did things in a way that largely aligned with my thoughts on fundraising. I also was making very little. I now work in a larger organization that pays far better but works with some donors that personally I’m more conflicted with.

      If I were to go forward deciding that I’d only work places that have a mission I support and fundraises in a fashion that adheres to all of my ideals – that’s going to leave me with fewer job options. And from what other posters in the healthcare field have said about the flu shot – it sounds like that may be the case for the OP.

      1. The Strand*

        But there’s issues of staffing too that come into play. It’s been a long time since I did this, and in another state, but in staffing a unit or floor, you need a core number of nurses who have certain abilities, and a respiratory therapist. A RN can do things a LVN or LPN can’t do, a LVN or LPN can do things a CNA cannot do. And none of the nurses can do what the respiratory care therapist can do. If three RNs get sick who are normally posted to the same floor or unit, you’re totally screwed, because you can’t have the remaining nurses completely cover all the tasks. If you’re experiencing a shortage of RTs (not common now, but was years ago), you may have to offer overtime, double overtime, triple overtime to get a temp to come in.

        That’s my theory why some health systems require you to have “scheduled” sick leave. You need to warn your boss that you’re sick 16+ hours ahead or it’s considered unscheduled. One unscheduled sick leave, they’ll let it slide. Two, they’ll counsel you. Three, they’ll put you on notice and it goes in your record. And then you have sick providers coming in and working, not only because of dedication but because of worrying about getting in trouble, because they need to wait 16 hours before they can take the time off. The really dumb thing about it is that you’re most infectious at the beginning of your illness!

        1. Bwmn*

          At the hospital I worked at, all of our PTO (vacation, sick, and personal days) came from one pool. Issues of nurse/doctor staffing aside, that design completely encouraged people to use as few sick days as possible. I’m sure there are theories of why one PTO pool can be an advantage, but it always brought to mind something a sports commentator would say about athletes having surgery – “I’ll be sick on your time, not my vacation time”. If you’re sniffly but largely functional, why use PTO when you could plan to have that day stretch out a 3 day weekend instead?

          Regardless, I mention it because lots of people have commented that the OP is in some way being selfish in regards to putting patients at risk. And based on my experience working in a hospital, the theory/practice of that reality I do not believe holds much weight. I think it’s far better to think of this as a heavy industry standard and reality. And if you want to entirely avoid it, you put yourself in a very narrow employment pool.

          If you do fundraising for any nonprofit – you may have some strong thoughts/feelings on taking money from religious institutions, large corporations or governments. If those feelings are so strong that you refuse to work somewhere that takes money from such an entity – it’s understandable, but it’s going to narrow down where you can work.

    3. Zillah*

      I think that this is a really good way of framing it. Conflicts between professional expectations and personal beliefs can be a constant balancing act in many, many jobs and professions. Sometimes you can stomach going against the latter; sometimes you can’t, and you have to identify what paths that cuts off and plan accordingly.

      OP, I’m not sure where you are in your career, but unless you have good reason to think that this isn’t a very widespread requirement, I’d look into this profession more closely. I think that you’re likely to find that this is a very common requirement, which may mean that this isn’t the right path for you.

  25. Xay*

    I think OP #3 should sit down and discuss why they are choosing to opt out of the flu vaccine with the understanding that they may have to resign from the position. The health care organization should have made it clear during the hiring process that flu vaccination was required, however, mandatory flu vaccination of health care workers is a standard CDC/ACIP recommendation and has been a recommendation for several years. As there is a currently a push to reduce exceptions beyond people who are medically contraindicated for flu vaccine, the OP will need to start proactively screening employers to see if they require a mandatory flu vaccine or if they permit exceptions for those who choose to forgo vaccinations for non-medical reasons. I think that concern about the loss of potential employees to this employer (and frankly, most health care employers) is negligible due to the current focus upon reducing hospital acquired infections, reducing flu transmission in health care settings, and reducing sick days during peak flu season.

    1. TL -*

      Yeah, although I have a hunch that asking about this in the interview would not actually reflect well on the OP, even if it wasn’t mandatory. Maybe asking after the offer?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I think one could ask “what’s your policy on staff immunizations?” without raising any flags, because it’s equally possible the candidate is pro or con. Asking “you’re not going to make me get a flu shot, are you?” is not a good idea. :-)

      2. Zillah*

        I think you’re probably right. Even if it’s not mandatory, they almost certainly strongly encourage it, and someone asking about it in an interview would probably raise alarm bells on its own.

      3. TootsNYC*

        If you’re going to quit, or not take the job, because the shot is required, why waste YOUR time making a good impression and getting hired?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But what if it’s strongly suggested but not required? Revealing a vehement anti-vax stance in the interview, even though it wouldn’t disqualify you for the job, could certainly set interviewers on edge anyway.

  26. Not So NewReader*

    OP1 with the daily memo. If this were happening to me, I would be tempted to compose a sincere, private reply email to the critique of my work. Note, I say sincere. If I could not muster an ounce of sincerity, I might not do this. But using the examples you give, I would form a question to ask the adviser. “Adviser, thank you for the time and thought you put into your critique of my work. I have a question for you: Given [lack of space, no return call/email, other constraints] how would you have done this article differently? It would be good for me to have a strong plan of what to do when [we run out of space, the people don’t call back, etc.].” By asking well thought out questions, I would try to see if I could get the adviser thinking about stuff in a different way.

    I have an adviser story for you. I was part of a group of women who formed a group in college. It was a branch of a nationally known group. We were assigned an adviser. At first the guy was annoying because he did not do much. After a bit I realized that TPTB considered him as a washed-up has-been and pretty much shoved him over into a corner praying for him to retire. I shifted. I stopped being so annoyed with him and I started feeling bad for him.
    My point is that these profs take on or are given adviser positions and there is a lot going on behind the scenes that we do not realize at first glance. Although, this advice is not helpful right this very minute, it might be wise to look around and see what else is going on with your adviser. Those findings may help you in some way.

    OP #3. It’s not the question you asked but I hope you find something useful here: If I were you, I would take my health care back ground and start looking for work in the alternative med arena and beyond. Maybe a job at a health food store would be an answer for you. Or maybe you are into fitness and something with exercise or exercise equipment would be just the perfect niche for you. Just because you have a back ground in health care does not mean you have to work in a health care facility. Please consider tangent areas. I agree with the others that said shots are pretty much the norm in health care places. I worked in human services and they thought I was a pin-cushion not a human being. Unfortunately, because of my own health issues, I have to be very careful with any type of shots. I did what they told me to do, but then I had to do separate things on my own to take care of myself. It was a lot of work.
    I cannot go into a lot of detail but I was at an event where a major health hazard occurred. I am not kidding you, I got to work on Monday and EVERYONE was asked if they were at the event. Of course, I said yes and, again, I was at their mercy. This is how it goes, they have their rules and they must follow them. If I wished to remain employed, I had to follow those rules also. Since I did not eat or drink anything at the event, I was cleared. (The nature of things were such that if I had eaten or drank anything, I would not be able to come to work. So they tended to believe me. You really could not lie about it successfully.) But this is how it goes.
    I recommend looking around and finding something you can do with your interest in health that is tangent to health care, but not direct care.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      For OP#1, I wonder if it would be a good idea to actually do this as a “reply all.” Yeah, I know, we all hate that. But if the purpose of Joe’s all-inclusive email is to let all the students learn from everyone’s mistakes, perhaps turning it into a conversation, rather than a one-way broadcast, would be helpful. Because the OP knows that source was cut for space, but the rest of the staff probably doesn’t, and they all might benefit from the conversation.

  27. Brandy*

    #3- this is pretty standard for healthcare workers. There are exceptions, because some people cannot have the flu shot (those with egg allergies, for example). You could talk to your HR department and see why the policy is in place and what if any exceptions can be made, but I’d make sure you have a solid reason/rationale in your back pocket.

  28. Ruffingit*

    OP #2: Let your coworker have the training opportunity and you spend your time job searching. I’m betting that if you go to your manager and ask her to choose, she won’t do so. Let your coworker do the training and you find another job because this situation isn’t one you should stay in anyway. Micromanagement and a manager who is apparently trying to sour the relationship you have with your coworker? No thanks.

  29. Just My Opinion*

    1. While it may not be normal in the workplace. In school it is different and you should not be letting the “public” nature of the criticism get to you personally. I think it would be beneficial to see what others have done and learn from that. The option you, OP, are advocating is that you benefit from feedback on just your own work and no one else’s; and no one else benefits from feedback given to you. I’d be more concerned if the feedback was just “good” or “could be better” with no comments about WHY. It is the “why” that is needed.

    2. Stick to your guns – you BOTH want to learn. It shouldn’t be any more work on her part to train the two of you than to train just one. Tell her that. And what if the manager and the one trained are out of the office? Does billing come to a complete standstill? Training both of you would fall under the category of “cross-training.” Not an uncommon practice.

    3. Hey folks, the OP has already stated her beliefs – let it go. We have no business in lecturing her on what is good or better for others. (see AAM, I get to read most of the comments now that my browser does not lock up – maybe fixing things wasn’t such a good thing after all) In other words, OP wasn’t looking for herd immunity speeches; think of others pontificating, etc.

    “My body, My choice.” period.

    And, to answer the question: No, in my opinion, it won’t look bad to quit before you start; except, as AAM says, with this employer. THEY failed to provide you with all the necessary information.

    Not exactly related; but, every place that I have applied to that requires a background check has stated so BEFORE we move forward with the hiring process. For them (or anyone) to make an assumption that ALL healthcare providers require flu shots and every candidate is okay with that (when it isn’t fully law in every state) is not professional on their part.

    4. I’d pass all that info along to my spouse and let him decide whether he wants to inform the parents of this slacker. If it were a colleague of mine I would most certainly let them know how my time was wasted.

    5. Since it isn’t your MAIN job I’d list it and they can follow up with any questions they have during an interview.

    1. Artemesia*

      If I were a parent and got this feedback I would stop trying to push my kid on everyone. I assume this kid was pushed by the parent to do this; he doesn’t sound like a self starter.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Well, he might well be–for things he’s actually interested in! It sounds like his interests, education, and experience all point in the direction of “he isn’t interested in this field, at all.” What he needs is a spine to stand up to his parent and say, “No, I don’t want to be a teapot engineer. I want to be a coffeepot polisher. I’m not going to any more of these things.”

        1. Laurel Gray*

          I don’t think any parent should be arranging their child’s informational interview beyond making the connection with a colleague. “My daughter is in school and is interested in coffee pot logistics and would love to talk to someone about what they do. Would you be willing to talk with her?” If the answer is yes, they should ask the colleague what the best medium is for initial contact and then give the info to their child. Their child should take the reigns from there.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Agreed. If someone is old enough to be in college, they are old enough to assume responsibility for setting it up. You can certainly help/coach them in how to do that, though ideally they should have learned it by then.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        If I were the type of parent to push my kid into this in the first place, I might not be the kind of parent who has enough sense to back off. ;-)

      3. Observer*

        Yes, but you probably wouldn’t have pushed your kid, to start with. On the other hand, it might be useful for the parentS to hear about this. Keep in mind that it’s quite possible that it wasn’t the colleague’s idea, but rather the spouse who was saying things like “You have connections! Help the kid out!”

    2. neverjaunty*

      Y’know, it’s kind of bad form to finger-wag at everyone else about “pontificating”, and then to turn around and pontificate. Pick one.

      As AAM said, the only issue here is how OP #3 should handle this given that she is unwilling to get a flu shot and it’s a requirement not only of this particular job, but of the healthcare field in general.

  30. Jubilance*

    #3 – you should resign and then strongly consider getting out of the healthcare field entirely. If you are that opposed to a flu vaccine due to your personal choice, this is likely a requirement you’ll encounter at other employers. Perhaps it’s time to transition to a different career that doesn’t require vaccinations.

  31. Not Karen*

    #3: You probably are, but are you sure there’s no exceptions in the fine print that you don’t know about? My old workplace called their policy mandatory, but they allowed exemptions for “religious or philosophical reasons” (among others) and all one had to do to prove one had one of those reasons was to check a box. If you must resign, for what it’s worth I think it’s perfectly reasonable to split with a job due to philosophical differences.

    Also, for everyone saying flu shots are a standard practice of working in the healthcare industry, at the job mentioned above I didn’t even work in patient care and the policy still applied to me. Even if you were a lab worker who never even walked by a patient you still were required to have a flu shot. So let’s not assume OP is in patient care either.

    1. TL -*

      I worked in lab at a hospital and had all the patient requirements – and I worked on a patient free campus!
      But I didn’t describe myself as working in healthcare (neither did anyone else on campus). I worked in a research lab for a hospital.

  32. Kate M*

    For #2 – this really sucks, especially because a lot of times the nicer person, or someone who has been socialized to be nice and polite and not make waves, will be the one to back down. It’s a cycle – the one who is better at dealing with being awkward and uncomfortable (so the situation won’t make them back down), and who is better at advocating for themselves, will get the better assignments/perks. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing for them necessarily, more people should be able to stand up for themselves and not back down, but it’s definitely harder for some people, and that ability doesn’t necessarily correlate with the ability to do the job well.

    As a funny tangent, this reminded me of when Jim returned from to Scranton and Ryan was sitting at his desk.
    Ryan: Hey, buddy. Welcome back.
    Jim: Hey! How are you man? Good to see… you.
    Ryan: I’m good! How are you? So…
    Jim: Oh, I’m sorry. Are you sitting here now?
    Ryan: Yeah.
    Jim: Oh.
    Ryan: Um… unless you really, really want it back.
    Jim: You know, man, it’s really you’re call.
    Ryan: Cool, thank you.
    Ryan (to the camera): Yeah. Jim is a nice guy. That’s why I got the desk.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “It’s a cycle – the one who is better at dealing with being awkward and uncomfortable (so the situation won’t make them back down), and who is better at advocating for themselves, will get the better assignments/perks.”

      Which is why I say the OP should just walk in and say, “We both want to do it, so we can’t decide, but I’ve been here longer, so it’s my turn. When should we meet for you to train me?”

      Be pushy!

  33. Ad Astra*

    When I worked for my college newspaper, we had an advisor just like Joe who functioned the same way and did much of his critique publicly, but it wasn’t terribly specific. The editor-in-chief usually emailed more specific critiques of the paper as a whole. They didn’t call out individual people, but would comment on specific stories, design errors, things copy editors missed, etc. — so anyone involved in that day’s issue probably knew who was involved, and it would be easy for others to figure it out if they cared to.

    OP, your manager is right to advise you to take these critiques with a grain of salt. In my experience, the advisor was almost never aware of any extenuating circumstances, and the intent was really to help you do better next time. Read the critiques, decide what, if anything, you’ll change next time you encounter a similar situation, and move on.

    And no, I don’t know of any professional paper that critiques in this way. I’m not sure why college papers (or, at least my college paper) do it this way. Professional journalists are way too busy to spend that much time analyzing yesterday’s product.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Professional journalists are also (presumably) working with people who’ve been through this sort of training. And they get detailed feedback from their OWN supervisors (esp. in the early years of their career, if the place has any size).

  34. Erica*

    OP#1, I would really encourage you to shift your perspective on the critiques that you’re getting. I don’t know if some of the other professional journalists who are commenting didn’t work for student-run daily newspapers, but this is very similar to the critique process at my campus newspaper, though we didn’t get daily emails back in 2000-2004 — the adviser marked up the paper every day and then had group sessions every Friday to talk about the feedback (the marked-up newspapers were then posted for everyone to see). That discussion is a crucial element that’s missing here, and I would encourage you to ask for that, but your letter also makes it clear that you’re missing the point of the feedback.

    If your newspaper is student-run, then it would be inappropriate for a university employee who is not a student to read your work before it is published. That would bring concerns about prior review / censorship. So you have to be allowed to fail in public to preserve your journalistic freedom. However, your job as a journalist is to serve the public, so it’s actually very GOOD that your adviser does not have the backstory about which sources you tried to reach and how much space you had, etc., because that allows him to react as a reader would. Your reader also doesn’t know that you tried to reach an important source and couldn’t, unless you tell them. And if you cut an important source for space reasons, then maybe you should have been cutting something else.

    The group nature of the feedback is also important because, if you’re a student-run paper, then your editor, copy editor and others staffing the paper also don’t have much experience. This kind of thing doesn’t happen in a professional context very often because you have experienced journalists who are working with you every step of the way and can (hopefully) catch your mistakes before they show up in print. If this feedback was only emailed to you (the person with the byline), then your peers who also worked on that story would be missing a chance to learn. If your supervisor is also a student, then I would gently suggest that that person doesn’t really know what he or she is talking about, either, so feedback from that person only goes so far. (And I supervised plenty of other students as an editor, assistant managing editor and editor-in-chief of my paper, so I say this with affection!)

    While, as I said, I would suggest adding a group discussion component, I would also really, really urge you to stop viewing this as a performance review in a corporate context and start viewing it as a vital learning experience. I can sincerely say that the critiques I got during my time at my student newspaper were the most important part of my college experience, and I’m sure many of my fellow students would agree. Many of them are now working for nationally known organizations (The Washington Post, The Associated Press, Time, NPR, etc.) and it’s generally acknowledged that our college newspaper experience was more important than our classroom instruction.

    1. Ad Astra*

      Great point about the entirely inexperienced staff. My college paper sent a daily memo like what OP describes that mentioned the strengths and weaknesses of stories, design elements, photos, news judgment, copy editing — all of it. It’s not just reporters who have a lot to learn.

    2. Macedon*

      Maybe I misread, but my understanding was that Joe’s got zero, zilch and nada in terms of awareness of the process behind putting together the copy he “reviews.” At that point, he’s not providing an editorial perspective or that much insight (further crippled by the absence of dialogue).

      The group nature of the feedback isn’t the problem for me — it’s that this guy is commenting on the cut of his steak but took no interest in how the animal got butchered.

      Re: college newspapers, opinions will vary. I think very little of them, personally – I’ve had more interns come in with bad habits picked up from them than not – but I’m sure there are some good ones out there.

      1. Erica*

        I thought the examples of that were pretty weak sauce. Your editor’s boss isn’t going to know how many times you called a source or what exactly got cut in the editing process, but he or she could certainly say your story was missing key info.

        1. Macedon*

          I disagree completely. If your editor’s boss is coming to you with Issues, he or she will want a dissection of your copy corpse and the 1-2-3s of your process. It’s standard practice.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Erica is right—if that source is missing, it doesn’t matter how many times you called, or what you cut–an important thing is still missing. So Joe doesn’t need to hear all the excuses to give feedback.

          The biggest things to me are:
          • Is Joe right? (and a missing source is pretty big)
          • Is there a time for people to talk through and learn from the critique?

          And maybe this:
          • Is the paper’s editorial staff making sure to create an atmosphere of “all of us in this together,” and “what are we learning from this?” and discouraging the “I/you messed up!” aspect?

      2. TootsNYC*

        I don’t think Joe NEEDS to know all the context. I loved someone’s phrase “excuse-free.” If a source is missing, it’s missing–it doesn’t matter whether you know why. In fact, having the excuse beforehand keeps Joe’s feedback from being as powerful as it could be.

        Also–Joe has an office in their newsroom; he’s available, presumably to coach people while they’re producing the story.

        1. Macedon*

          An editor would know all this context. An editor would be constantly updated on a piece’s development, because at any point, s/he could say, “We’re missing too much, scrap it.” “We’re running late, scrap it.” “I want a new angle, scrap it.” “We need to match the competition, scrap it.” I’m not expected Joe to hold college newspaper writers to that same degree of scrutiny – but he needs to know what went into putting together the piece, if he’s going to be returning genuinely helpful feedback.

          That’s not the impression I am getting from OP’s letter re: Joe’s input. OP is welcome to clarify.

            1. Macedon*

              Joe is allegedly there to provide the kind of direction that an editor would, re: reviewing copy. Otherwise, I really don’t understand his role.

              I’ve been reading your responses on this topic, and I think where we will fundamentally disagree is – as a journalist who’s currently in breaking/investigative, I don’t have the luxury of thinking of copy as an assignment I receive and pursue independently, without constantly updating my supervisors. In an actual newsroom, every single major coverage decision is communicated to the editor, who decides whether to proceed or not. It’s not a matter of turning in copy and then having someone go over it blindly and say, “This could be improved,” “You should’ve talked to X or Y on this.” What you’re referring to as ‘excuses’ – “We couldn’t get in touch with (this critical source) in a timely manner” – could be deal-breakers in an actual news environment. It’s useless for Joe to afterwards say, “Oh, this robbery took place and you couldn’t talk to the investigator in charge? Well, then“, because the student probably already knows that’s a major problem (and the piece would not have been published on those terms, period, in an actual newspaper).

              If Joe wants to give these students feedback that is genuinely helpful to them, he needs to be keeping up to speed on the process that led to the creation of a particular piece, and helping them out with advice on wherever they went wrong in that cycle. Optimizing a journalist’s reasoning and process is so much more effective than improving their one piece of finalised copy. Otherwise, the most Joe can do is advise on structure and cosmetic style changes.

      3. OP #1*

        THIS! I don’t find Joe’s critiques nearly as helpful as they could be. To clarify on Erika’s concerns about censorship, the advisor in question, while a university employee, is not bound to represent the interests of the university.

        I do take issues with both the group nature of the feedback–which I wish my immediate supervisor would focus more on–and the lack of context in the critique. If you read The New York Times critiques of the paper by Sullivan, she does a great job of talking to reporters and editors to get their perspective on how the story was shaped before she renders a nuanced, very informed judgement about the story. I see the context lacking in my advisor’s critiques, and I’m trying to push back against that and the group nature of the critiques.

        1. Macedon*

          Don’t push against the group nature of it. You’ll come off thin-skinned. I’m sorry – there is no kind way to put that. It’s an industry that boasts its scars.

          Personally, and please take this with the necessary grains of salt, I would discourage you from relying too much on Sullivan. She’s great. She really is. But the NYT has an industry-wide reputation for having a very specific editing process, and it’s not a style that the majority of the publications out there can or care to apply. So, her input is of limited use. Might change now that she’s head to the WPost.

          1. Anonymouish*

            I agree with this very much. Also, since news teams are, you know, teams–try to see it as a critique of the work itself, which is a product of many, rather than of you, personally. I certainly hope Joe’s notes are about such-and-such a story, i.e. “this trailed off in the third paragraph”, rather than personal notes, i.e. “Obviously Arnold was too distracted to call for a follow-up quote.”

            If they’re about the work, then everyone needs to know, in order to improve the whole paper.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I think this is more like a sports team. The coach isn’t going to pull every player into the office individually at the next practice–she’s going to talk about individual and group weaknesses with everybody assembled.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Sullivan’s purpose, and her audience, is different from Joe’s.

          Joe is helping to teach a bunch of rank beginners.
          Sullivan is defending her newspaper’s reputation by exploring a fully known problem.

    3. Cass*

      Great response. I haven’t come across these tactics myself (I didn’t work on a student publication during school) but your take on it seems really helpful.

    4. TootsNYC*


      This is the thing to take to the higher-ups:

      ” the adviser marked up the paper every day and then had group sessions every Friday to talk about the feedback (the marked-up newspapers were then posted for everyone to see). That discussion is a crucial element that’s missing here, and I would encourage you to ask for that,”

        1. TootsNYC*

          Actually, you’re right–Joe’s got an office there, he ought to be available for that sort of group gathering.

  35. newlyhr*

    She can explain that she does not want to comply with the job requirements and thank them for considering her for employment. Period. Most hiring people I know would respect that.

    We had a similar issue recently. We have pre employment drug testing where I work, and we had a new hire say they had a problem with that–not because they had took drugs, , but they thought it was an invasion of privacy and a violation of search and seizure. OK. Fine. We wish you well. But you aren’t working here unless you take the drug test.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      This is a great example. While I would and have peed in a cup for a job, I know people who wouldn’t on principle alone. As my new job told me when I showed up on the first day that I had to go take a drug test before I started with no prior warning, I could see where some people would have been very offended. To me this is no big deal. To some of my friends this would have been a deal breaker and they would have been pissed not knowing about this policy before they quit their job to take this new one.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t like it either, but with one week left on unemployment and the cup filling being a requirement, I sucked it up and peed.

        Also, they would have been pissed–tee hee!

      2. newlyhr*

        we do make people very aware of the drug test requirement–it’s in all our job postings, on our website, and written in our conditional offer of employment. Still some people seem to miss the message.

  36. Kyrielle*

    Disclaimer: I don’t work in the medical field and never have. My advice may be worth less than the paper it isn’t printed on here.

    In future, OP3, if the web site doesn’t explicitly say they are or aren’t required, I’d keep that as a question to ask at the offer stage. (Asking in the interview could cause them not to consider you even for an organization that strongly pushes flu shots but doesn’t mandate them.)

    I’d also suggest a fairly neutral question, rather than one that makes it clear what you hope the answer is, “What is your policy on employee vaccinations?”

  37. Elaine*

    At my student newspaper, the student editors had a weekly meeting to review the front page designs and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each newspaper. It might also be worth considering your on-boarding process for student journalists. At our newspaper, students had to take a writing test, interview with the student editors and then write a handful of shorter, easier stories on their own, cover an event with a student journalist and then take a class led by our adviser. During the class, the adviser detailed his expectations for the number of sources of each article, how we would conduct interviews, being on time to events, etc. If your adviser is consistently saying the writing doesn’t meet his expectations, it’s worth considering whether the students involved have the training and knowledge necessary to balance the various deadline pressures, source challenges and quality expectations.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I thought of Rory, too! (Paris would have been able to take the criticism, even if she thought it was terrible and incorrect.)

      1. Anonymouish*

        In fact, Paris would point out that the critique writer missed three errors that she, Paris, had already flagged in her own piece.

  38. CADMonkey007*

    Just curious, if a person cites religious reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated, and a job requires vaccination, is there a potential religious accommodation issue at play?

    1. neverjaunty*

      There’s always a “potential” accommodation issue in play when an employee has a sincerely held religious belief, but employers are not required to make unreasonable accommodations.

      1. Beth*

        Except sincere religious beliefs of this nature are rare enough that they can be covered under religious exemptions the same way I’m allowed into hospitals even though I’m immunocompromised and often come in diseased

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      I think it also depends on what they believe. I used to run in the same online circles as someone whose husband wanted religious exemptions for a vaccination because he believed it was made out of baby fetuses. The vaccination wasn’t, so his military employer wouldn’t allow this as a reason to exempt him. The blogger was horrified about this, but there are limits on what “sincerely held beliefs” include.

    3. Milton*

      Welp, it’d have to be the religion of #FirstWorldProblems. As far as mainstream religions go (Catholics, Christian, Islam, Amish, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science, etc.) the stance ranges from highly endorses vaccination to no stance/does not object. Dutch Reformers have a history of refusing vaccines and that caused a huge outbreak in their community. Wonder how that happened.

        1. Treena*

          Right, but can you really claim you’re opposed to vaccinations if the second there’s an outbreak in your congregation, you encourage everyone to vaccinate? It’s just so ridiculous…

          “The megachurch’s pastor was very cooperative and even agreed to host several free clinics to encourage the congregation to get their shots.”

  39. jmm*

    OP#1, I was one of the editors of my college newspaper, and worked in the newspaper business as a reporter, then editor, for 5 years. At my college paper, the adviser would give us general feedback after each issue went to press, but would only provide specific feedback (criticism) in a one-on-one setting.

    At the newspaper I worked for after graduation, the publisher would praise employees publicly, and provide criticism in private. Of course, that was a little different, since he closely reviewed each issue of the paper before it went to press, so that any errors or problems could be corrected before publication.

  40. Anonymouish*

    Delurking after a LONG period of time to say, OP1, I don’t find this unusual at all, and there’s a very specific reason why.

    One of the biggest differences between journalism and other fields is the pace. I worked for many years on daily news programs, and one of the reasons an email like this is helpful is because there just isn’t time for individual, one-to-one feedback on each specific story. If I have eight reporter/producer teams in the field, all filing stories for the 6 PM show tonight, and then turning around to do it again tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, there’s no time for me to sit down with them to discuss their various strengths and weaknesses in a given story, and by the time we make the time three weeks from now, there have been 14 more recent stories to discuss.

    This is compounded if something that comes up in Maurice’s story is something I want everyone to take note of. It’s far, far easier to debrief to everyone, and have that be an ongoing editorial conversation, than it is to speak individually to each reporter and explain what Maurice ran into and how it should be applied if it comes up again.

    It also allows for a system of checks-and-balances. If everyone knows we don’t use the Oxford Comma (but we really should!) then even if the writer of the piece and the copy editor forget, the assignment editor or anyone else can flag it, to make sure the mistake doesn’t make it to print/air.

    So while it might seem a bit overzealous, it is entirely in line with newsroom procedures, as far as I’m concerned.

    1. OP #1*

      As Alison mentioned though, managers are supposed to be providing one-on-one individual feedback. Joe works outside the normal reporting and editing structure of the newsroom. He has time–and should be using it–to provide more detailed feedback on our paper, and not through a mass email.

      1. Anonymouish*

        I can’t speak to Joe’s job description, but if part of what he is supposed to be doing is providing you with real-world feedback similar to that you’d get in a real newsroom, his methods seem to be relatively on track.

        Nobody is going to sit you down in a closed-door office and helpfully discuss what could have been better. They’ll either shout about it– “Get me another source now!” or, alternately, praise by way of motivation, to the effect of “Apparently Arnold is the only one who knows how to properly cite a source anymore!?”

        I will say that sometimes post-mortem meetings are more helpful than emails, but these are almost never one-on-one either.

      2. fposte*

        Well, he’s not a manager, that’s not true in all fields, and it’s not an across-the-board rule (nor does Alison say that it is–she offers it as a good procedure, not a requirement). So following up on Anonymouish’s mention of the job description–is there a reason for you to think he’s failing in an obligation here, or is it just that you wish you were getting this kind of feedback? From what the experienced say, it sounds like he’s in keeping with industry norms and is doing his job solidly. But if you want to talk to him one on one, have you asked him to meet with you to do so? I think that’s likelier to get you the feedback you’re looking for than complaining about him to The Powers That Be.

      3. TootsNYC*

        “He has time–and should be using it–”

        Ummm, I think you need to stay in your lane. You’re not his boss, and you aren’t the person who has a right to say how Joe “should be using” his time.

        If *you* want more specific help from Joe, go ask him for it. He’s got an office right there in your newsroom. I’ve never met the man, but I still believe that if you went in and said, “Hey, about your comment on my/Sally’s story. Here’s what happened; what should we have done differently?”

        But maybe there are people receiving that email who can read it, read the article in question, and say, “Oh, yeah, I see how important it would be to let the reader know we TRIED to reach the opposition party”–all without having to spend more time with Joe.

        Set your ego aside. Learn!
        (I’m seeing Edna Mode with her rolled up paper smacking Elasta-Girl and saying, “Go!”)

  41. Cass*

    I’m a reporter and I’ve never experienced anything like OP 1’s situation. Only thing that comes to mind is they are student journalists and perhaps the advisor thinks they can learn from each other’s mistakes. It doesn’t sound like that’s how it’s being taken though so seems like a bad practice.

  42. Creag an Tuire*

    For OP #3, is it possible that the policy wasn’t stated because it’s state law? There appear to be three states (at least as of Nov. 2014), that require the vaccine for anything save medical/religious exemptions. (Link below.)

    Also, without getting into my own value judgements, I’d point out that the article linked in AAM’s response is four years old and at this point the “backlash” is getting it’s own backlash. I’m not saying it’s definite, but you might want to consider taking steps now to ensure you can switch careers if your state currently has or might pass a healthcare vaccination law.


  43. S.I. Newhouse*

    OP #1: I’m a former college newspaper editor. I actually like the idea of an adviser providing detailed feedback (I sure could have used that!) but it really should be individual and not public. Is it possible to ask Joe just to change that part of the practice?

  44. 2 Cents*

    OP#1 I worked for my college’s weekly newspaper, and our adviser gave frequent critique. After each issue published, he’d meet with the editors of each section (separately) to give feedback about the section, the week’s stories, where it was good, where improvement was needed. That feedback would then trickle down to the reporters via the section editors. Very rarely, the adviser would talk to the reporter individually (unless it was a particularly good story or a particularly troublesome story). And aside from praise, he didn’t give feedback publicly.

    Like you, I have fewer problems with the critique email itself than it going to all staff. I’d also find it more helpful if he met with you face to face to go over critiques, but perhaps the size of the staff / pace of production is prohibitive for these one-on-ones.

    1. OP #1*

      I don’t have issues receiving feedback from Joe, but I think he needs to get more context for the feedback–just as I do when I talk to sources about articles I write. He is a paid, full-time advisor to the paper, so I see no reason for him not to help provide more detailed critiques. Sigh…

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        So ask him for them. “Joe, how do you think I should have handled this? What would you have done differently?”

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s a really good question, and it avoids the defensive trap that the students otherwise risk falling into. The goal isn’t for him to understand why the reporters didn’t have sources, made errors, etc.; the goal is for the published result to improve.

      2. 2 Cents*

        Ah, that is problematic. I agree with Rusty Shackelford below: How would you have done this differently?

      3. TootsNYC*

        I’m w/ Rusty–ask for that depth, if you want it!

        You seem very focused on how Joe should be doing things differently. If you want more from him, ask for it.

        1. OP #1*

          I’ll definitely ask him for more feedback. I still stand by my critique of his critiques, but I will take the first step and ask him to clarify what exactly he’s concerned about.

  45. Book Person*

    RE #3, honestly, I would be more surprised if a hospital / other healthcare setting DIDN’T require immunizations. I went to university in an area with a high anti-vax population, which resulted one year in outbreaks of both the measles and the mumps in the local communities. I recall that I had to get booster shots for both, and provide my updated immunization record, before I was allowed to return to campus after break (I didn’t mind–it seemed like a sound approach given the situation. The campus also had a “get your flu shot; get a coupon for a free beer” event that was wildly successful).

    OP, I don’t know if it will make you sound out of touch with industry norms to decline the position based on this new knowledge, but the fact that it IS new knowledge for you gives you a graceful enough way to bow out, I think. Thank them for giving you the opportunity for the position, but explain you need to bow out because of your personal beliefs. Leave it off your resume when applying for future positions, and you won’t have to worry too much about what they might think of your reasoning.

      1. Book Person*

        I phrased that poorly/glibly: I definitely see the difference between an annual flu shot and an MMR vaccine (though it didn’t matter when one had last been vaccinated in this instance; you had to get another booster shot before returning to campus). But this was also a campus of thousands who were paying for their education, and were required to be immunized in order to continue their education, because it was a public health concern. At a hospital or healthcare setting, where public health is central to their mission, I am not surprised that there is an even heavier/more strict emphasis on vaccinations for paid employees.

  46. TootsNYC*

    Re: the newspaper

    It’s a student newspaper, so it’s not JUST a job. It’s a learning experience.

    And by sharing the critiques of your work with other students, this adviser is providing training to other students as well.

  47. Sue Wilson*

    You know, I think immunizations are necessary to people who spend the grand majority of their time with immuno-compromised people in the same vicinity, and strongly suggested for people who are just around people, but there’s some kind of irony at suggesting that it would be understandable for any industry dealing with healthcare to not tell their applicants about medical procedures they might need to have as a job requirement. Like this isn’t really an informed consent issue, but philosophically it’s pretty similar.

  48. A Current Journalist*

    I’m a journalist. My college paper’s adviser marked up daily pages and posted them in the newsroom. The boss at my first job out of college did this as well, although not as often, since we were all professionals at that point. Both were valuable feedback opportunities.

    So I don’t have a problem with the public nature of the critiques unless there is a major issue that should be addressed privately. Even then, if it got published and the adviser didn’t comment on it, others may assume it was fine and dandy, and that doesn’t reconcile in a learning environment.

    Between classes, actually covering news, and everyone’s differing schedules, there’s not enough time in the day to do sit-downs with each person. And even if there were, I believe it’s more valuable to have feedback be sent to everyone, so you can learn by way of others, too.

    Additionally, in my experience in journalism, most feedback tends to be negative/nitpicky (misspellings and the like), very negative (“how could this have happened?!”) or very positive (“this is award material!”). If something is left unsaid, it’s probably fine/acceptable or even good. That just seems to be the way it is.

    I’m curious: Who is your supervisor: a student editor, or a full-time employed adult? If it’s a student editor, I’d put more weight into the adviser, anyway. During my college paper days, sure, I had student editors who outranked me on the editorial totem pole and thus were technically my supervisors, but those relationships still felt mostly equal. (Come to think of it, I can’t think of who my “supervisor” would have been at my college paper, if it wasn’t the adviser.)

    I will concede that if the critiques are too short or superficial, they probably may not be useful. If you want more detailed info, ask the adviser for it. Based on how he treats this request will tell you whether he is or is not a good teacher!

  49. CM*

    In the linked Slate article that quotes Allison, the stuff about informational interviews being a sneaky way to get in at a company (and therefore, people should think twice about agreeing to them, or just interact by email) makes me kind of sad. Yes, it’s useful to be aware of personal bias. But I have asked many people to coffee just to learn more about what they do and how they got there, with no intention of ever working with/for them, and it’s been tremendously helpful to learn about the many different paths out there. And I’ve happily been the one giving advice and insider knowledge over coffee too. I don’t think it’s true that the interviewee always wants something from you, other than to hear what you have to say.

  50. Newsbunny*

    LW1: I’m journalist. You are going to meet very bad news directors/editors in your life, and very good ones. This is a bad one.

    Let him write his little letter every day. Ignore it. Get your feedback from your readers, and, if you can, get your feedback from professionals. Find a mentor. Someone who actually works in the field. Read good papers, like the Washington Post and the Times. Read bad papers. Learn the difference.

    All of THAT said, you have to learn to deal with relentless deadlines and criticism. If you’re good, and getting better, you’ll get hired at bigger papers and stations (I’m a broadcaster) and work with better people who will make you better.

    Cover what scares you. Don’t be afraid to ask a stupid question, because that is the question your audience is probably going WTF over. Don’t be afraid to stick knife in politician’s or CEO’s heart when they deserve it. Don’t attack the cop on the beat. Get his boss. The beat cop is your friend. Learn to read highly technical company, science, court, and political papers. Protect your sources, but know they have an agenda, too. That’s what you need. And don’t lie. Say when you don’t know something.

    I’ve been a reporter for 25 years, and I was a professor of journalism for five years, BTW.

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