Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Newsrooms’

Journalism as ‘civic reactor’

In journalism on January 18, 2017 at 6:44 pm
U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

Nicco Mele is a fascinating guy who may be on to something.

He is director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, an angel investor, a senior fellow at the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy as well as a contributor to the Harvard Business Review. He was once deputy publisher of The Los Angeles Times and it’s safe to say he’s thought a lot about the future of news organizations.

In an important and short post to Nieman Reports, Mele makes a potent statement on behalf of our mission:

With a declining respect for expertise, a worldview inextricably shaped by celebrity, and an intense desire for escapism to avoid the pressing challenges of our moment, Donald Trump seems suddenly inevitable. But a resignation to inevitability is not an honest or just response. There is really only one thing to do: Go local. The emphasis on national politics is drawn like a magnet to celebrity. The stories in our own backyards tether us … but that local connection is our salvation. It can redeem our journalism and our politics. …
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A snapshot of engagement

In Online media on June 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm

engaging pic

Some time ago, I submitted answers to a short survey from the University of Texas Engaging News Project. To tell you the truth, I’d forgotten all about it. Until, that is, I got an email this week from the organization, which is part of the university’s Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. The researchers were sending me a draft of their findings.

To back up just a sec, the project is housed within the UT Moody College of Communication. It’s stated purpose is to help foster “a vibrant American news media that more effectively empowers the public to understand, appreciate and participate in the democratic exchange of ideas.” Sounds great to me!

The research focused on audience engagement, the way we all handle comments and other aspects of our online product. Some quick numbers:

  • Nearly 90 percent of all news organizations surveyed monitor metrics such as unique visitors and pageviews.
  • Only 33 percent specifically tailor news content for mobile. Hmmm…
  • More than 80 percent of respondents across all size organizations have someone who responds to reader comments online. Yet, only 20 percent of them have written policies governing how and when to respond. …

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An editor’s first priorities

In Editing on March 20, 2014 at 3:57 pm
R. Sanderson Taylor, editor of the Brisbane Courier from 1925 to 1933.

R. Sanderson Taylor, editor of the Brisbane Courier from 1925 to 1933.

What are the priorities for a new editor?

Someone asked me just that question the other day. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the first two things that came to mind are perhaps the most neglected aspect of the job for folks who, like myself, have been rooted in place for a while. That’s weird, isn’t it?

First, get to know the staff: The first job for any new hire (I suspect this is more or less true across industries, regardless of whether you are hired is a manager) is to meet your coworkers. As it relates to new editors, I don’t mean simply getting the names straight. You have to understand your human assets in a much deeper way.

I might suggest three approaches. First, you’ll want to have formal meetings. Make notes on how the beats are carved up. Ask yourself whether they seem rational. Take note of body language and enthusiasm in these meetings. Who speaks up; who is demure. Next, meet with everyone in the department individually. Learn their outside interests. Ask after their family. Understand the pressures that drive them at work. Finally, read their work. Do your new charges have a handle on their beats? Does the writing sing? Do they use real people as sources or just the mayor and police chief? Do they think outside the box for graphics and presentation?

All of this is just a start, of course. Consider these initial observations sort of a baseline. … Read the rest of this entry »

Is ‘lazy’ really the right word?

In Management on September 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm

lazy pic

You may or may not manage any people at your workplace, but you are probably managed by someone. That is a fraught relationship, isn’t it?

All of us want to be competent and even excel. Most of us think we are giving our best effort. So it hurts when we find out through a regular employee review or, worse, through the grapevine, that our boss thinks somewhat less of us.

I both nodded along and cringed a bit when I read Jill Geisler’s excellent column on management on the Poynter site. It’s aimed squarely at managers, like me, and I’m sad to say I see myself in some of the half-dozen pointed questions she poses. If you are an editor or a publisher, please take a moment to open the link and see if any of that stuff hits home for you.

Here’s part of the problem, as I see it: There is a natural tendency among humans to be overly reductive when describing complex problems. So, instead of explaining to our own boss why, say, one of our direct reports doesn’t do a good job on his beat, we simply describe him as “lazy.” We know it’s not that simple. The guy may be lazy, but here’s betting that isn’t the root of the problem.

Terms like “lazy” and “stupid” and “slow” turn job performance into character assessments and that is a huge mistake. For one thing, these become self-fulfilling prophesies; if you expect someone to be slow, she surely will be slow. These terms are ineffectual for managers. They will not help you fix the perceived problem. But more importantly, these reductive terms are unfair on a human level. … Read the rest of this entry »

Tips for tweeters

In Online media on June 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I’ve tried, in my own muddied way, to make the case for Twitter. Now Twitter itself has come to my rescue.

Last week, the micro-blogging site released #TfN – Twitter for Newsrooms. It’s quite simply genius and must reading for anyone who knows that hashtags and 140-character posts are part of the revolution of information delivery, but just not sure what to make of it all. And that includes me.

The new site lays out why Twitter is important to reporters and how it can be used to find sources, push information, drive traffic to your websites and just have fun. It includes search tips, reporting ideas, branding thoughts and an array of useful information.

As Twitter explains:

We know you come from different generations. Some are native to the pilcrow, others native to the hashtag. You began your careers in different media: radio, print, broadcast, online and mobile. But you share a common bond: the desire to make a difference in the world, bringing reliable information to the communities you serve.

The site includes a testimonial of sorts from Jack Tapper, with ABC News: … Read the rest of this entry »

Lou Grant meets Starbucks

In journalism on January 13, 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 »