Archive for July, 2013

Len La BarthWhen a friend takes his life, you wonder whether you could have helped him find some hope, whether you missed a sign or ignored a cry for help.

In this case, I wasn’t that close a friend, more like a friendly colleague. And I did help. But I didn’t sense his despair. And still I wonder.

In my American Press Institute days, my biggest client was Freedom Newspapers. I managed annual evaluations of their newspapers (I can’t recall how many, but it was dozens). I wrote a quarterly evaluation called the e-Tuner that cited highlights of the past three months and identified points to work on for improvement, a chore that involved reading a few samples from each of the papers and perusing their websites. (I think the e-Tuner might have been the first place I told journalists about the value I saw in Twitter.) I led three regional seminars for Freedom and was a speaker for three editors’ conferences and a webinar.

One of the best Freedom newspapers was the Appeal-Democrat in Marysville-Yuba City, Calif. I frequently praised the paper and its editor, Len La Barth, in the e-Tuner and I enjoyed meeting Len at the conferences. At my last Freedom editors conference, in San Antonio in 2008, we enjoyed a jovial dinner with a few other editors.

Len appears to have killed himself, perhaps jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. His car was found parked nearby in March(more…)


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

Editors don’t succeed based on our own work. We succeed or fail based on the work of our staffs. So hiring is one of the most important jobs you will do as an editor, an opportunity to upgrade your newsroom. Hire an outstanding, self-starting journalist and you will bask in the glow of his or her work. If you hire someone who is careless in verifying facts, he or she will damage the credibility of your organization.

Hiring has always been an important job for an editor. It is doubly so in a time when most newsroom staffs are shrinking and when news organizations are changing their priorities and processes to meet the challenges and opportunities of the digital marketplace.

Each position you get to fill is an opportunity to add important skills to your news staff and to bring in someone who will quicken the pace of your newsroom’s digital transformation. (more…)

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