Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2013

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Newsroom strategy needs to be bold. But you also need to know what digital audiences value.

On the boldness scale, I give a little credit to the editor (and/or corporate executive) who decided to cut the entire photo staff of the Chicago Sun-Times. While I oppose and mourn every cut in newsroom staff, I have said news organizations need to decide what to stop doing. If you have to cut, I think I’d normally have more respect for leaders with the guts to make a strategic cut — such as cutting an entire department — than those who just helplessly erode the whole newsroom across the board.

As I read the outpouring of outrage, sympathy and support for the Sun-Times photo staff in social media yesterday, the part of me that loves bold leadership and recognizes that sentimentality and affection can’t guide business decisions wanted to defend this decision. But I can’t get there.

This strategy overlooks what the audience values.

Most top editors come up through the writing and editing ranks, not from the photo staff, so our default settings favor paragraphs over photographs. But our users engage more deeply with visual images. They always have. (more…)

Advertisement

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms. 

Dan Rowinski

Dan Rowinski

Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite, first offered the advice below in a comment on yesterday’s blog post on mobile opportunities, suggesting that I should have provided more detailed suggestions. He was right. Whatever detail I provided was in previous posts that I acknowledged were outdated. I asked Dan if I could break out his advice as a guest post. I added a few links. How applicable his suggestions are to the editor’s job will vary by newsroom, but the suggestions are valid and helpful.

I think you will find it a little easier to think about if you break it down into tangible categories.

Deployment

  • How does your site look on mobile? There is a good chance it looks like crap. That is probably going to be your first and biggest problem. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Editors need to understand and pursue mobile opportunities.

In more than one-third of Digital First Media news operations, we get more than half of our traffic on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Just as the computer reading experience is different from the print reading experience, the mobile user experience is different from the desktop or laptop experience.

You need read and view your products on your smartphone and tablet (and recognize that they aren’t the same thing), both on the apps and on mobile browsers. Know what your mobile users are seeing and experiencing. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Nancy March

Nancy March

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms. Nancy March, editor of the Mercury in Pottstown, Pa., and cluster editor for Digital First Media in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia, offered this post after I made brief reference to the editor’s personal life in my post last week on respecting the staff’s personal life. Thanks to Nancy for this guest post.

I have a saying honed during 37 years in the news business: “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

That may sound like encouragement to procrastinate or an excuse for laziness, but it’s not. Put it in context of our work: We  build a product from start to finish in a day’s time — every day — and with so much emphasis on what we have daily, we have to also know what we can set aside until tomorrow. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

A new editor is taking on a demanding job that doesn’t leave you much time. You probably will think you’re too busy for a blog. But editors should blog.

I fully understand thinking that you’re too busy to blog. I started a weekly column right away when I became editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 2008 (I had done the same thing as editor of the Minot Daily News in 1993 when blogging wasn’t an option). I meant to start the blog soon, but quickly got “too busy” and didn’t start blogging for six months. But when I made the time, my communication with staff, the public and the broader news business improved right away. A blog is worth the time. Editors should make time for it.

An editor with a blog comments on community issues, explains newsroom decisions to the community, publicly praises staff members who excel and sets an important example for the staff. Editors should make time to do all those things.

Blogging reinforces the culture of transparency that is important for you and your community. When the editor blogs, staff members who are “too busy” understand that this is a priority and that they should make time to blog as well. They understand that engaging with the community is important, that it should be part of what makes you busy, not part of what you’re too busy for. (more…)

Read Full Post »

When I was in France last month for the New Media in Russia conference, Oksana Silantieva interviewed me about the Complete Community Connection. I told her the concept for a new business model for news remains valid, but the details would need to be updated since I first proposed it four years ago. We also discussed my suggestion for a new business model for obituaries.

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

David Witke

David Witke

Editors should be aware that we’re role models for the future editors on our staffs.

The editor who most shaped my own leadership is David Witke, who was managing editor of the Des Moines Register when I started working there in 1977 (the editor who hired me, in fact).

Dave has given me lots of advice through the years, but nothing he told me was as important as watching him lead. Here’s my favorite example of Dave’s leadership: (more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Staff members are entitled to a life outside the newsroom.

When work has to intrude, acknowledge the intrusion. Apologize for calling at home or for interfering with dinner or vacation or weekend plans. Thank the reporter who came in on a day off or skipped lunch to deal with your demands or questions. Thank the editor who worked late on a breaking story even though he had a Cub Scout meeting that night. Commend the reporter who took the initiative to cover news that broke on personal time. She might have irritated a spouse or missed an important family event. Thanks are in order.

Sometimes thanks should be personal, sometimes public, sometimes both. I like the way Nancy March, editor of the Mercury in Pottstown, Pa., publicly praised staff members who worked through the night to provide her community timely digital coverage of developments in the Boston Marathon bombing case. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms. 

Shooting e-mails, texts or social messages back and forth is tempting, easy and sometimes necessary, especially for busy editors with large and moving staffs working different shifts. You want your content-gathering staff to be out of the office covering the community and sometimes an email, text or message on Twitter or Facebook is the best way to communicate quickly.

But you should communicate important messages and many lesser ones face to face. If you have criticism, look the staff member in the eye and state the problem. If you have praise, go to the staff member’s desk, smile and deliver your praise. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

An effective newsroom leader understands how much creative control and authorship means to journalists.

My grandmother, Francena H. Arnold, was a novelist who once rejected a publisher’s suggested story line, saying, “I could no more write someone else’s story than I could birth someone else’s baby.” Journalists don’t have quite the freedom Grandma did to choose their own stories, but they share her parental and possessive feelings about their work. Good editors respect and nurture this sense of authorship even while they have to provide more direction to their staff’s work than Grandma allowed. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Sometimes a new editor inadvertently squelches staff creativity and initiative by telling staff members what they should be doing and how. An editor can communicate priorities and stimulate staff creativity by asking, rather than telling.

Whether you’re asking about general staff performance or specific stories, good questions are effective leadership tools.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

A Digital First editor leads a lot of change in a newsroom. So you need to be sure that your staff receives the training to execute the changes you are leading.

I help with this in my visits to the newsrooms of new editors for Digital First Media, but the need for training continues and the editor should make training part of the newsroom’s culture and routines:

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »