Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Change’

Making a great magazine better

In Magazine on 26 Feb 2015 at 3:05 pm


One of my favorite moments of the week comes each Sunday morning when I stroll to the end of the driveway and pick up The New York Times. It’s got that satisfying heft that more newspapers used to have, and truth is bending down to pick it up is likely to be the most strenuous exercise I have all weekend. Sad but true.

There is plenty of wonderment inside this driveway bundle. I always enjoy the sports, the Book Review, Travel… but the piece de resistance is often The New York Times Magazine. It was great as it was — before the Times announced it was re-inventing an institution.

So last Sunday I walked to the end of the drive with some trepidation. Would they screw it up?

No. They did not. And I mention the transformation here because I think it proves that innovation doesn’t have to mean new technology. The New York Times Magazine is still print-focused and last week’s included the most print ad revenue of any in the magazine’s history, according to Editor Jake Silverstein. Why did advertisers flock to it? Because the staff just wouldn’t leave well enough alone.

Among the cool features in the first week: … Read the rest of this entry »


Make one thing better

In Innovation on 22 Jan 2015 at 10:56 pm

one thing better

In the mid-1970s, Jack McElroy was working for the Douglas Dispatch, which at the time was owned by Thomson Newspapers. He told me this week he was ready to take a gig with Wick’s own Sierra Vista Herald when the Albuquerque Tribune called. One thing led to another, and McElroy is now the top editor of Scripps’ Knoxville News-Sentinel.

He was gracious enough to call me back after I emailed him about a column in Editor and Publisher. In that column, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Tim Gallagher mentioned a long-ago initiative in the Albuquerque newspaper designed to improve some aspect of the newspaper every single day. Gallagher wrote, “I’m sure (Jack) would be glad to talk about it,” and he was absolutely correct.

McElroy said that the 1980s were a sort-of magical time at the Albuquerque Trib. It was the junior, afternoon newspaper in a Joint Operating Agreement and, as such, free to experiment a little.

One day McElroy announced the newspaper would improve one thing every day for a month. He told staff, then he told readers. … Read the rest of this entry »

Revolving around a new sun

In Innovation on 16 Oct 2014 at 3:41 pm

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 2.51.36 PM

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel let slip this week that it would no longer put its newspaper at the center of it’s sunny south Florida universe. The world now revolves around a digital star.

The plan is to make almost everyone serve the digital product first. A select, small group will be assigned to transform all that digital content (a dismissive term denoting commodity rather that quality which I continue to dislike) into a newspaper. Everyone else is reporting for the online news site. The organization is no longer hiring newspaper reporters, per se.

Does it matter? Is that a meaningful shift?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. It’s not the first time a news organization has sought to change the nomenclature surrounding its business model in hopes of making plain its digital intentions. It’s only been three years since the venerable Journal Register Company announced the creation of Digital First Media. You can’t make your intentions any more plain than that. I guess you would have to say that change didn’t completely change the fortunes of a legacy media company.

I’m sure that spinning terms alone isn’t sufficient to make change. It may be true, however, that tinkering with our processes is necessary to chart a profitable course in the long term.

The changes in south Florida represent an evolution. It used to be that digital departments operated as standalone stepchildren at places like the Washington Post. They were seen as experimental and technical and more akin to an engineering enterprise than the core mission of journalism. Sometimes they weren’t even in the same building. … Read the rest of this entry »

Lou Grant meets Starbucks

In journalism on 13 Jan 2011 at 3:55 pm

That’s what the New York Times said about The Register Citizen in Litchfield County, Conn. Now we can get a glimpse into that digital-first world.

The publisher of the Register Citizen and the vice president of content of the newspaper’s parent company will be available on a free webinar Jan. 27, hosted by the Suburban Newspaper Association. Wick Communications belongs to the SNA, but this one is free anyway.

The Register Citizen is not in Silicon Valley. It’s in an old mill town, not the sort of place you would think of as an incubator of change. But, at least according to press reports, the minds behind the newspaper decided more than a year ago that they had to try something different to counter sinking circulation.

So they moved into a new location that was designed to maximize the opportunities of the Web and minimize barriers between news staff and the community. They opened their news meetings to the public. They invited bloggers in to work in their newsroom. They even opened a café, where folks could get a cup of coffee and a muffin and discuss the events of the day… Read the rest of this entry »

Change vs. irrelevance

In Innovation on 8 Oct 2010 at 7:56 am

On a recent trip to Colorado State University, I checked in on a friend in the university administration building. She gave me a little tour, including a peek in the president’s office.

In addition to being president of my old alma mater, Tony Frank is an unrepentant Chicago Cubs fan, so I had to resist the urge to steal his baseball bat signed by Ernie Banks. There is lots of university memorabilia in his office, too. Plenty to see.

Frank had a couple of quotes blown up and rendered on foam board. One read, “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.”

I didn’t catch where the quote came from at the time, but, if the Internet is to be believed, the words are those of retired U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki. Business guru Tom Peters used the quote in his book, “Re-Imagine: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age.” … Read the rest of this entry »

The dizzying pace of change

In Ideas on 12 Mar 2010 at 10:56 am

Here’s something you may have seen. It’s a collection of facts posted in pleasing form on YouTube. There are several iterations around the Web and together they paint a dizzying portrait of the pace of change in the world today.

It is the creation of Karl Fisch, a high school IT guy in Colorado, Scott McLeod, an associate professor at Iowa State University, and Jeff Brenman, the founder of a design and consulting firm in North Carolina. And that tells you something right there. Before the Internet turbo-boosted our lives, these guys likely would have never met, let alone been able to collaborate on something like this.

I mention it in The Kicker because it both directly and indirectly speaks to what we do and the pace of change in our industry.

As the managing editor of a weekly newspaper in a somewhat isolated place, I can sometimes convince myself that I’m insulated from that change. That a weekly newspaper is a stable thing and that my pursuit is at least reasonably like that of editors who have gone before me… Read the rest of this entry »