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Archive for May, 2013

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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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:

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This guest post by Sue Burzynski Bullard continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Sue Burzynski Bullard

Sue Burzynski Bullard

A piece of advice someone once gave me became my rule to live by as an editor: “Always do what you say you’ll do.”

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But the transition from being responsible only for you to being responsible for others – reporters, copy editors, and photographers – isn’t simple. Suddenly, the demands on your already packed schedule get even crazier. Everyone wants you. Everyone needs you. Right now.

And you want your team to be able to depend on you.

So “do what you say you’ll do,” or to “be where you say you’ll be” means getting organized. And if your idea of organized is smacking Post-it notes all over your computer, you’ll quickly discover you need a better way.

Here are a few digital tools that may help you:

  • Use a calendar. I prefer Google calendar because it’s simple to use and it connects with my Gmail account, contacts and other Google apps. Google has a slew of training videos on how to get the most out of your calendar. One of my favorite features is setting up text message alerts for events in my Google calendar. Check out these tips for using Google calendar from BetterCloud. (more…)

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

Daily news meetings are an important place for editors to emphasize priorities.

If a morning meeting focuses on the next day’s newspaper, that will be the focus of the staff’s energies. A Digital First editor should place the focus, especially in a morning meeting, on plans and results for digital content. Don’t critique the morning paper (or, if you must, critique it briefly at the end of the meeting). Instead, you should discuss what’s resonating this morning with your digital audience: What’s getting strong traffic? What’s generating comments on your site or your Facebook page or on Twitter? Do you have plans (or should you make them) for advancing those stories through the day?

If you have projection capability in your conference room, show the site and/or your Facebook page and/or your analytics page(s) on the screen to aid in the discussions.

Discuss digital coverage plans for the day: What video are you shooting? What stories might you be able to supplement with YouTube videos? What stories provide good crowdsourcing opportunities and how should you pitch them to the community? What are photo gallery opportunities, and are you planning to shoot them (and/or to seek community photos)? What events will you be covering live this day (and the next)? Will you be livetweeting them, liveblogging, livestreaming or some combination? Are you planning a live chat about an event or timely issue (or should you?)? Discuss what you’re promoting (or will promote later in the day) on social media. (more…)

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