Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Ideas’

Where do ideas come from?

In Ideas on 16 Feb 2017 at 6:37 pm


When I asked last week for each newspaper to come up with a single editorial project in the second quarter of 2017, I knew that it was a simple ask that would prove hard for some of you. That is because we are all consumed by doing what we do every day and sometimes the daily grind obscures vision.

So today I wanted to offer a couple of ideas. Both of them I stole, fair and square. One was an exhaustive project in the Washington Post that examined the “life” of a single Baltimore block due to be demolished. It ended up telling the story of the city. The other is simpler imagine: telling a story through a series of Instagram posts.

Both are fun. Remember fun? Trying something new is often the most life-affirming part of any day or week. Trying something new is often its own reward — even if it doesn’t increase the bottom line.

And that is another thing to remember about this assignment. The vast majority of America’s workforce is engaged solely in the quest of making more money for shareholders the workers don’t know. How freeing is it that your bosses have asked that you follow your passion and produce something you can be proud of, regardless of whether it makes a red cent?

Take a look at the ideas shared today. And then think outside the box.



Dare you to watch this

In Ideas on 10 Jun 2016 at 7:19 am

If you are anything like me, you sometimes have trouble coming up with new angles for those annual events. High school graduation, street fairs, Fourth of July parades — they just keep wheeling around the calendar faster and faster the longer you stay in a job.

Perhaps that is why I was so impressed with the above video from Colorado State University. The occasion is graduation, but there is nothing typical about it. The production quality, the sound, the stark setting all work so well. But really it’s the very idea that is so breathtaking.

If you are a parent, I defy you to watch this without choking up.

Recently, CSU social and digital media coordinator Chase Baker wrote about the making of that video and some lessons he learned. It’s well worth your time.

Baker notes that it’s important to take risks, to try something new. He says that relationships matter, and I might add that building relationships with your sources is also important. He talks about details and the importance of drawing out emotions. … Read the rest of this entry »

#TBT your own writing

In Writing techniques on 21 Aug 2014 at 2:45 pm
#TBT Your humble editorial director, right, rocks the Gibson L-6S roughly 35 years ago in somebody's basement.

#TBT Your humble editorial director, right, rocks the Gibson L-6S roughly 35 years ago in somebody’s basement.

Are you familiar with the #TBT meme on social media? It’s shorthand for “Throwback Thursday” and it’s an opportunity to post old pictures of yourself and your friends in an attempt to make you look good and them look bad. At the Half Moon Bay Review, we use the #TBT hashtag as an excuse to post photos from our archives on Instagram. People seem to like it and I think it points out our longevity as a brand.

Well, Poynter writing coach Roy Peter Clark had the good idea of bringing the concept to your own writing. (Stop right there. If you don’t follow Clark’s thoughts online you are really missing out. He’s super. OK, go on.) He suggests going back and rereading a piece of your old writing and looking at it with fresh eyes. What works? What makes you cringe? Do you see evidence of you in your work? If you didn’t know it was yours, could you spot it as your work?

I’m finding that, for the most part, my voice has been intact for as far back as I care to look.

July 19, 1993

Gainesville Times

By Clay Lambert

New Atlanta Braves first baseman Fred McGriff goes by the nickname “Crime Dog,” but on Monday, as flames billowed from the press box at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the team would have gladly traded him for a single firefighter’s Dalmatian. …
Read the rest of this entry »

Are you boring?

In Ideas on 7 Nov 2013 at 4:26 pm

dave Barry

Do you like Dave Barry? Please don’t say no, because that would hurt my feelings. If you don’t know, he was the Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald. He belongs in some kind of hall of fame for this column alone.

By definition, one who makes you laugh is not boring. If you have ink on your newspaper that causes people to guffaw and hand the thing over to someone sitting nearby, well, then you have an antidote to many of our industry’s problems.

Not long ago, I read an interview with Barry on a website called “Newspaper Death Watch.” Barry was bemoaning the state of things and hit on what I think we can all agree is a big problem: boring newspapers. Here’s how Dave tells it:

Newspapers have had a consistent problem over the past 30 to 40 years that whenever they are offered two options, they always pick the one that is more boring and less desirable to readers. …

I think he is alluding to our tendency to seek the relative safety of the very middle of the road. We do this for a good (or at least ostensibly good) reason: We think fairness dictates it. We can’t run that great high school football photo six columns wide because, gosh, what about the other high school games that day? We can’t run a front-page editorial because, well, it just isn’t done. We can’t tell what we really think of that local hamburger in our review of the joint because, darn it, the owner of the store is such a nice guy. … Read the rest of this entry »

Sharing magazine ideas

In Ideas on 2 May 2013 at 4:37 pm


Many of us are rethinking magazines. Whether we have one already or whether we are imagining one for the first time, we could all use some ideas that work.

Some of us met in Tucson recently to address this very subject. At the time, I suggested creating another blog dedicated to sharing layout ideas, story suggestions and other tricks of the magazine trade. I was about to do just that when I stumbled onto the idea of creating a Pinterest board for the purpose.

Why Pinterest? A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed that women are five times more likely than men to use Pinterest, and Pinterest attracts a higher percentage of high-income, well-educated users than Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. That means it is the platform of choice for a demographic that should sound familiar to the people who were in Tucson.

It also seems like the perfect platform to share something visual like magazine ideas. It’s clean and visual and there are thousands of ideas already out there. I’ll try to track home, food, pets, kids – many of the things we talked about in Tucson as well as cool magazine designs we might all learn from.

I should say I’m an absolute novice on Pinterest. And that is part of the reason I’m doing it. I want to learn how to use the platform to see how we might benefit at the Half Moon Bay Review and throughout Wick.

For now anyway, it’s under my own name. If you haven’t already, you should sign up for a Pinterest account. You can find my board here: http://pinterest.com/claytonlambert/. … Read the rest of this entry »

Reading is fundamental

In Books on 19 Jul 2012 at 4:00 pm

From the just-sharing-an-idea department, I thought I would pass along a successful campaign we’ve been helping to facilitate at the Half Moon Bay Review. Who knows, something similar might work for you.

We have a twice-monthly “Books” page in the paper. It’s a nod to the fact that, at the time we launched it, there were five independent book stores in town. We figured we could intrigue advertisers (and appeal to our literate readership) by featuring local authors, book events, library things, etc., in a regular way.

Anyway, about a month ago a local reader called to say he had a garage full of brand-new children’s books. He used to be a book reviewer and the books were piling up. He asked if the Review would help distribute them to eager young readers. … Read the rest of this entry »

What your readers want

In journalism on 12 Jun 2009 at 8:58 am

I submit to you that, while there are definite regional subtleties, your readers and my readers at the Half Moon Bay Review want very similar things from their newspaper. So why don’t we give it to them?

Too often, the nation’s newspapers ignore what people want and publish what editors think they ought to want. So you get incremental stories about personnel in City Hall and the audit of the parks and rec department and yesterday’s game score. I’m not saying that stuff isn’t important. I’m just saying that isn’t what readers say they want. And that should give us pause.

Twelve years ago, the Newspaper Management Council produced a list – gathered from its own research – of general topics that readers say cause them to read the newspaper. Eleven such topics appeared on just about every survey, according to the NMC’s Michael P. Smith.

  • Education – What is Johnny doing at school all day and is he learning anything?
  • Family issues – How can I be a better parent; what can I do with my family this weekend?
  • Environment – How can I keep the planet safe for my children?
  • People – Stories about people like me in the community where I live. (The survey’s author was quick to add that this doesn’t mean elected officials or the police chief, but real, every-day people.)
  • Career issues – How can I improve myself; what are the successful strategies of others?
  • Work – How can I get more out of the day, and balance work and family?

Leave an obit for your family

In Obituaries on 5 Jun 2009 at 7:35 am

(Montrose Daily Press Publisher Steve Woody wrote this as a column for his newspaper. I thought it woodymugthoroughly wonderful for several reasons – not least because I like the idea of writing your own obit. – Clay)

A good friend of mine, Will Chapman, is the publisher of the Daily Iberian in New Iberia, La. I often steal from his popular column and vice-versa. Recently, he buried his father. His father, like mine, was a newspaper publisher. Will and I have compared notes over our 30-year friendship about fathers and sons who share a common passion of newspapering. One example is how we both had crummy jobs while growing up in our father’s newspapers, those “character building” types of employment.

What was also noteworthy about William Chapman’s passing in Bastrop, La., was how he had written his own obituary. That may seem a little morbid to some, but it was one helluva good obit. Mr. Chapman was an official U.S. Army photographer who went into Tokyo the day after Japan’s surrender in WWII. He got into the newspaper business, selling and buying newspapers in Arkansas and Louisiana with family members and was one of the first publishers in Louisiana to convert from hot type to offset printing. He raised a family, was a civic and church leader. It was an interesting life, lived long and well.
Another friend, albeit not as close, is Richard Ballantine. He’s the publisher of the Durango Herald. He started working in his family’s business as a teenager and loves talking about obituaries as much as I. He’s got about 12 obits in the hopper from people who have written about themselves and their lives. He wishes there were more… Read the rest of this entry »

Filling the frame

In Photography on 20 May 2009 at 10:37 am

JuneSightSeeing-1(Lars Howlett is the photographer at the Half Moon Bay Review. As part of an ongoing series of tips from the best Wick photographers, this week Lars shares insight into how to use the entire frame. – Clay)

When composing a photograph, it’s important to fill the frame, taking full responsibility for everything that is included in the image.

Often the best approach is to simply get closer to the subject, cropping out all but the essential aspects of the setting. There’s a fine line however, between including so much of the environment that the image becomes cluttered versus cropping so tight as to miss out on elements that could be key to providing context.

Recently, I shot one of the big annual events in our area, the Pacific Coast Dream Machines. It’s essentially a car and airplane show that benefits local charity. I became lost in vintage hot rods and antique automobiles for close to three hours. As the afternoon wore on, I realized I hadn’t even seen the airplanes yet.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat, I rushed out to the airfield and the classic embrace of a couple caught my eye. The skies were clear which presents the problem of a lot of empty space, but to my delight a helicopter slowly rose to fill the hole in the sky and an airplane added a final touch off in the upper right corner… Read the rest of this entry »

Find your niche

In Innovation on 20 Mar 2009 at 9:06 am

I heard it said the other day that a newspaper is like a big ol’ Swiss Army knife. On the knife, you had the blade, of course. But you also had this toothpick thingy, maybe those little hard-to-use scissors and perhaps even an awl, of all things.

Traditionally, newspapers have covered the hard news – that’s the blade of the thing. There have been features, sports, business, comics … maybe that Sudoku thing is the newspaper’s awl.

It is a shame to lose any of that stuff. The beauty of the Swiss Army knife is all that stuff. But lately, the there has been a lot of emphasis in serving segments of our readership very, very well with specialized publications. Each niche within your readership – and those niches vary from market to market – are potentially lucrative communities within a community.

There is a great short discussion of this phenomenon on the Nieman Lab Web site. Comedian John Hodgman provides an interesting example of a small community that can be more meaningful than much larger, less well-organized masses.

So what does that mean to us? Several news organizations have attempted to harness the power of the niche. The Bakersfield Californian, for one, has been known to sell sponsorships for very specific niche “publications.” Here’s a blog they put together just for a single wrestling tournament. Once they set up the platform, creating new such blogs is a very simple thing.

The benefits of seeking to serve segments of your audience in a specialized way are several and not necessarily obvious. Many editors report that the comments they get on such online publications are much less boorish than what most of us see on our own more general Web sites. That is because parents are the only ones likely to be attracted to a blog on parenting, and so on. That sense of community carries things a long way… Read the rest of this entry »