Wick Communications

New Year’s editorial resolutions

In Ideas on January 12, 2017 at 2:41 pm

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How are we going to get better in 2017?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Recently, Wick CEO Francis Wick asked that I help develop some goals for our newspapers. Initially, I saw it as a complicated matter for a company with weeklies, dailies, magazines, digital niche products and a lot of diversity in terms of human and other resources. But I’m starting to distill it into a deceptively simple question that we can overlay with some measurables: How are we going to get better in 2017?

Those specific recommendations are coming in the next couple of weeks. And many thanks to the fellow editors and publishers who have already helped me with the project. (If I haven’t called you and you have ideas, please call me!) As I work to refine specifics, let me give you an idea of the kinds of things I’d like to see more of in the coming year:

  • Context: We’ve talked about this one before. I don’t just want the breaking news. I want to know what it means. If you have a story of a meth arrest on your front page, tell me if such arrests are up or down and whether social service agencies are working on the problem. If you write about rising garbage collection rates, tell me why they are going up and how local rates track with those elsewhere in the state. News without context isn’t very helpful.
  • Enterprise: It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, but at the end of the year I’d like for you to point to a number of stories, videos, events, graphics, web polls, blogs, email blasts or tweet storms that made a difference in your community. Put off something else; do enterprise.
  • New story forms: Drones experiments, 360 video, Facebook Live, data visualizations, podcasts, broadcasts… It’s a brave new world. Let’s enter it.
  • Opinion: I’d very much like this to be a renaissance of our local opinion pages. Imagine a world in which you never ran a syndicated column, an outside cartoon or an editorial that was printed first in another newspaper. Imagine leading the debate in your community. It can be done. Some Wick papers are already all-local on the opinion pages.
  • More, better points of entry: Make your front pages jump out of the racks with better art, real teasers, intriguing headlines. There is a lot of competition for attention; let’s make ourselves stand out.

Those are the kinds of things I want to see more often in Wick papers. To achieve that, we would like to develop achievable metrics that make sense and aren’t merely a matter of checking the box so you can say you did the minimum.

How are we going to get better in 2017?

Clay

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