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Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Today I am leading a webinar for the Society of Professional Journalists, “Leading Change in Your Organization.”

I will repeat points I made in my 2014 posts about Project Unbolt.

I’ll also cover points covered in these posts for the INMA Culture Change Blog:

Here are the slides for the presentation:

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An editor at a mid-sized newsroom asked me some questions about digital productivity expectations for reporters:

We are banging our heads against the wall about this: How much content should reporters be required to write each day online? … Some feel they produce way more than others. So how do you even the playing field?

My quick answers:

  1. Everything any reporter produces should be published first online.
  2. Content is not all equal. You don’t measure reporters’ productivity or performance by counting widgets or credits.
  3. Expectations for reporters vary by beat and over time. Reporters should meet the expectations of their jobs.
  4. Running a newsroom isn’t like parenting. Your expectations for different reporters vary according to beat, experience, skill, news flow and a variety of other factors. You don’t even the playing field and I have little patience with whining about reasonable facts of life.

I’ll elaborate on those points in order: (more…)

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Digital LeadsI am cheering on the Four Platform Newsroom transformation efforts of the Journal Media Group newsrooms. And I encourage you to read a new report, published today, about the project in newsrooms of the former E.W. Scripps Co.: Digital Leads: 10 keys to newsroom transformation.

I have some experience with newsroom transformation efforts. As editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 2008-9, I led a local effort to change how a newsroom worked. As digital transformation editor at Digital First Media, I led a companywide transformation effort, first an informal effort involving visits to 84 newsrooms, then helping hire and mentor new editors and finally Project Unbolt, focused on four pilot newsrooms shortly before I left the company last year.

I wouldn’t describe any of those efforts as a complete success, and I know none of them was a complete failure. However much we succeeded, I learned a lot and blogged a lot about what we did.

Michele McLellan, one of the Scripps consultants on the project, knew of my transformation efforts and gave me an advance copy of the report, so I’m going to share some observations here.

During the Scripps project, a corporate restructuring resulted in a merger of the Scripps newspapers with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to create Journal Media Group. Since the Journal Sentinel wasn’t involved in the Four Platform Newsroom project, I will refer to the group here as Scripps. The company consulted with the Knight Digital Media Center at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Today’s Digital Leads report was produced and released by KDMC.

I have visited only one of the eight Scripps newsrooms where the transformation is considered to be working, and that was just briefly years ago. So my knowledge of the changes at Scripps is based solely on reading the report. As a result, I’m not going to praise or criticize specifics of what Scripps newsrooms have achieved or attempted. Instead, I’m going to summarize the 10 keys of the report, with some highlights from the report and advice for other newsrooms undertaking their own transformations: (more…)

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I’ll be leading two workshops today for the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim.

First I’ll be leading Kindling the Flame, a leadership workshop that used to be my most popular workshop before innovation and digital skills began to dominate my training. I’m pleased to do the workshop again (can’t remember when I led it last).

Related links for the leadership workshop:

The handouts I used to use for the Kindling workshop for newsroom executives and copy desk chiefs.

My advice for new Digital First editors series.

Related links for the Digital First workshop:

How a Digital First approach guides a journalist’s work

Digital First journalists: What we value

10 ways to think like a Digital First journalist

Questions to guide a Digital First reporter’s work on any beat

Slides I’ll use for the Digital First workshop (I won’t us slides in the leadership workshop):

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

The most unpleasant task of my editing career has been firing staff members.

Whether you fire someone for performance or misconduct or because you have to reduce the size of the staff, you are disrupting the person’s career and life in ways you and they can’t foresee. You are delivering a blow to the ego as well as to the family finances. It can be devastating to the journalist you fire and gut-wrenching for the editor who makes the decision and delivers the news.

No advice I can deliver changes any of that. So one of the most important pieces of advice I can give is this: If you can’t handle that difficult task, don’t take on a top editing job. It’s a great job that includes a lot of exciting and rewarding work. But it also invariably includes this task, even in good times, and you need to be able to handle it. (more…)

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

Staff behavior and performance problems are among an editor’s greatest challenges and opportunities.

The staff member who is performing poorly or behaving inappropriately can bring a newsroom down and in most cases an editor needs to deal decisively with it. The performance and/or behavior can spread. The tolerance of the performance and/or behavior sets a standard for other staff members. And your newsroom is too thinly staffed for your good performers to be stretched a bit more to cover for the slacker.

That’s the challenge. The opportunity is that a successful discussion with the top editor at a critical moment can help turn a career around and turn a problem into a productive staff member.

The needed conversation is uncomfortable and difficult, but it’s one of an editor’s most important moments of leadership. (more…)

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

Time is one of an editor’s and a newsroom’s most precious resources. Spend your time wisely to move your newsroom forward and elevate your digital journalism.

The challenges of digital journalism give you – and your staff – lots more things to do without giving you any more time. To succeed, you need to manage your time – and your staff’s time – efficiently or you will certainly be overwhelmed.

To manage your time effectively, a top newsroom editors must:

  • Set priorities.
  • Delegate.
  • Decide what to stop doing.
  • Decide what to do less of.
  • Decide where you can accept a lower standard.
  • Identify time-wasters.
  • Find opportunities to use technology to work more efficiently.

Priorities

Few things an editor does are more important than setting priorities. Decide for yourself how you and your staff should spend your time. The priorities you set will shape other time-management decisions. (more…)

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