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Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

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.

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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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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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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