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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…)

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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 Whatever detail I provided was in previous posts that I acknowledged were outdated.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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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.

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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…)

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