APME/APPM 2009

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All the news from the conference in St. Louis

9 a.m.: Innovator of the Year Award

by Mary Poletti

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City’s daily newspaper, won the third Innovator of the Year Award on the final day of this year’s APME conference for their integration of video into all aspects of their coverage and the duties of all of their reporters. Kelly Fry, the Oklahoman’s vice president of news and information, called the development a “culture change.”

“It’s been a lot of hard work to change the culture at the Oklahoman,” Fry said as she accepted the award. But, she said, “We owe it to the public.”

The APME Innovator of the Year Award goes out to the paper with the best print, digital, online, or other innovation of the year. Participants voted for the winner with paper ballots after watching a brief video about each paper’s innovation and taking part in a brief question-and-answer session with a representative from that paper.

This year, the Oklahoman won by instituting what they call a “total approach to video” into their Web site, NewsOK.com, that senior staff claim puts them on the same level as TV. All reporters are equipped with small video cameras and are trained to search for a possible video component in every story. The Oklahoman uses a tiered system of training for the creation of video; all reporters are trained to generate what’s called Tier 1 video. Autoplay videos are embedded in every story online where video has been shot, and many beats feature recurring video segments set up as talk shows with reporters.

“Any way we can tell stories effectively and immediately is what we’re doing now,” said sports reporter Darnell Mayberry, who covers the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, in the Oklahoman’s video. He cited not only video as part of this effort, but also blogs and social networking.

The Oklahoman also uses video and social networking to flesh out their breaking news coverage. For coverage of a crippling ice storm, NewsOK.com ran live streaming video of the highways throughout the day alongside a reader-staff chat forum through CoverItLive.

In conversation with moderator Bob Heisse after their video, Fry said the Oklahoman’s initial video investment had been about $1 million. In return, the paper is on track to best 10 million video views in 2009 – up from 1 million in 2008.

Fry said three key reasons the Oklahoman transitioned to video as such an integral part of their news operation were to extend their journalism (“If you have a tool, why not use it?”), to spend more time being intentional about their Web site, and to generate revenue. Among other revenue sources that have stemmed from their use of video, outside businesses use the Oklahoman’s studio for their own video needs.

Three newspapers competed for the Innovator of the Year Award. Heisse said the competition was the closest it had ever been.

“No seconds or thirds. These are all winners,” Heisse told the audience.

The News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla., was nominated for a focus on “journalism shaped by community.” The newspaper orchestrated several community information and improvement efforts, using its status as a community leader to go above and beyond simply presenting information to actively better the community.

The News-Press’s “Dear Mr. President” project collected the opinions of readers to present to President Obama in print and online multimedia form. “Summer of Hunger” brought together local services to feed area residents who would otherwise have gone hungry during the summer months and to connect them with social services for a lasting effect on their quality of life. More than 20,000 people were served, and 6,000 families were connected with social services. And a macroeconomic project brought together business and community leaders to distribute information on job-seeking, cost-cutting, and other means of coping with the economic crisis, which hit the construction- and real estate-based Fort Myers economy particularly hard.

Senior managing editor Cindy McCurry-Ross told Heisse the projects and similar work “let the readers really come in as the foundation of our journalism and help us forge solutions for our community.”

“Knowing from our journalism that there was going to be a problem…we needed to use our ability as community leaders to get [people] at the table and facilitate the conversation,” McCurry-Ross said. “We wanted to play a leadership role, but we also wanted to cede some of that leadership back to the community and say, ‘We’ve got to fix this together.’”

At the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal, the paper built on its strong tradition of environmental reporting to launch the Web site AllGreentoMe.com, a portal for information about the environment. Aggregating the best of environmental content on the Web through automated search functions, the site also includes community contributions from area environmental scientists and university professors. The site connected with citizens to advance the idea of “a green economy” while fulfilling a watchdog function to keep the agriculturally rich area aware of and safe from threats like rising rivers.

“We’re trying to use technology to tell stories in a really deep and sophisticated way,” said vice president of news and executive editor David Ledford.

The integration of science-oriented community content helped, too, Ledford said: “That gives it credibility. That kind of science really brings it a level up.”

Both the News-Press and the News Journal spoke to the need for solid management skills to launch new innovations in a changing newspaper environment.

McCurry-Ross said the paper’s four principles in looking at new endeavors could be summed up in the acronym POTS, which stands for planning, ownership, teamwork, sustainability.

The News Journal’s video said the paper, which has experienced downsizing, relied on multitasking to ensure the success of AllGreentoMe.com. Many newsroom staff members took on site-related responsibilities in addition to their full-time duties at the paper.

The APME began the Innovator of the Year competition in 2007. The News-Press won that year for their series of integrated efforts to solicit reader news tips.

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Filed under: Awards, , , , , , , ,

Workshop: What structure works best

by Mary Poletti

No one structure fits all, and no single best structure exists, Rockford (Ill.) Register-Star executive editor Linda Grist Cunningham said at the outset of the workshop “What structure works best.”

What matters is that a structure exists for journalists’ chaotic work — and what matters in that structure, Cunningham said, is who’s doing the work, whether they understand who’s doing the work, and whether they’re doing it well. The workshop’s three editor-panelists largely echoed that sentiment.

Tom Callinan

Callinan, the editor and vice president for content and audience development at the Cincinnati Enquirer, described his restructuring modus operandi as “all about the work” and his attitude toward restructuring as “stop playing newspaper.Most of the content is now hard news.

Through Gannett-mandated restructuring of his newsroom over the last year, Callinan said he had lost 60 reporters in his newsroom — but not a single public interest reporter, having, in fact, hired some of those. He now serves as the managing editor and editorial page manager, with the paper having targeted middle management in its downsizing: “We’ve whacked all of the middle management. They’re gone. …We don’t need it.” Gone, too, are the multiple meetings each day — replaced by one virtual meeting at 9:30 and a check-in at 4:30. Editors now spend much more time with reporters, including Callinan, whose direct reports now sit directly outside his office. “We don’t sit behind that closed door,” Callinan said.

Despite the difficult changes at the Enquirer, the paper is emerging from its funk and growing in its content. Focusing on hard news has helped.

George Stanley

“This has been the toughest year of my career, for sure,” said Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which lost a third of its staff this year. But, he said, “We haven’t lost anybody doing accountability journalism…the important stuff… That’s what drives everything we do” and distinguishes them from their competitors.

There are fewer specialists at the paper in design and editing, and assistant editors have now picked up some of those responsibilities, as well as reporting duties. There are only four people in the newsroom (including editorial assistants, librarians, etc.) who are not journalists — “because we saved the journalists.”

Lisa Strattan

Strattan’s paper, the Herald River in Fall River, Mass., is far smaller than the other papers featured in the workshop — 26 people in the newsroom, including Strattan. The most formal reorganization, a year ago, accompanied a redesign and followed a set of downsizings, and the paper lost a few others this year. However, the addition of one person has added “a layer of management” — “an uber-editor who can get everything done,” to pull together the paper’s fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality.

Strattan specifically addressed the paper’s status as a union shop. Apart from the paper’s four managers, everyone else is union — and the managers’ duties are quite separate from the guild members’. Communication between the paper and the guild, she said, is key.

Eliminating Sections & Content

Cunningham said her paper had eliminated features six days a week, replacing that section with a go/do section, and had all but stopped running AP content.

Callinan cited cincymoms.com as a cheap and very popular example of finding and working the source of features content rather than devoting space to features. He pointed to Examiner.com as a direct competitor with newspapers in this area, where the site hires cheap bloggers to directly compete with newspapers.

Stanley said the Journal Sentinel newsroom had stopped zoning their content geographically, with beat reporters now scouring the whole coverage area for the best stories.

Foresight

If you had known a year ago what you know now, Cunningham asked the panel, what would you have done differently?

Stanley said he would have made reporters stretch their abilities and prove their worth to save their skins.

“Going back further than a year, I think we can all agree that we should have had a stronger evaluation process,” Callinan said, in order to preserve people’s rights beyond simply union-mandated seniority. Cutting middle management had been unavoidable, but the cuts had gone awfully deep.

Managing Stress

So how do these editors and their staff handle the stress level? By keeping purpose in mind.

“Who gets to do what we do?” Strattan said.

Stanley said, “I worry about what the next six months will be like, but if you focus on doing great work” and why you want to come to work every day — “to save the world” — it is a tremendous motivator. Make everyone, including copy editors, part of big projects from the beginning.

Callinan emphasized the desire of young journalists to work in teams and work for purposeful companies. Purpose is a big deal to millennials. “We have that common cause,” he said. He emphasized the individuality of management style as well.

Cunningham touched on delegation, letting go and letting others help. She asked the panel and the audience about restructuring task forces and allowing staff to come up with ideas. Man audience members said versions of those ideas had been effective for them, as long as boundaries were in place: “You still have to know where you’re going,” Stanley said.

Filed under: Changing times, Photojournalism, Workshops, , , , ,

2:45 Breakout session: Losing a day

By Andrew DeWitt

Cutting days

Lori Kilchermann, John Tucker and Steve Wade turn to discuss cutting days of newspaper content. Photo by Lauren Foreman

In this breakout session are the following people talking about how to adapt to losing a day of newspaper delivery.

Lori Kilchermann, John Tucker and Steve Wade are here in the room to share their experiences.

John Tucker says that generally what they tried to tell people in the Lake of the Ozarks was that we were going to deliver more news and more importantly more local news. Had some difficultly in changing over from older

Steve Wade went through his transition 13 months ago. After the KC Star pulled back away from his publication’s coverage area, he was able to use that an example for what was going to come. His smaller paper feared the community outrage after a failed attempt back in 1992. They were concerned about cutting the Monday edition and gave two weeks notice.  Also told readers that they were not going to get less news and even more.

Lori said that they chose to cut Monday based on advertising day. Also, there was no competition would move into the Monday day. Monday just worked well for her competition. Another challenge her paper faced was deciding where to move a special feature section, specifically health, away from Monday into a Tuesday.

Steve said that the numbers decided to also cut Monday. He said that readers missed starting off the work week with a newspaper and that the routine was disrupted.

John said that he thought that killing the Monday paper hurt the work flow of going. Looking back, he would have killed the Saturday paper even though that would have meant killing the high school football Saturday newspapers.

All three editors said they struggled with readers being upset about the Comics missing for one day. Lori said that her paper has doubled up on games and comics on Tuesday to make readers happy.

Steve Wade said that they took a customer friendly approach dealing with subscriptions. They extended each subscription a day longer for each Monday they missed. Looking back, he said that approach probably cost them some money and could have dealt with unhappy customers on an individual basis.

Lori said her publisher took a hard-stance and said they weren’t going to issue refunds for canceling the Monday paper. She said a couple of subscribers decided to cancel but they loved the paper so much that they came back anyways.

Steve said they made a mistake in that the Sunday reporter relaxed and they didn’t manage those expectations correctly.

Lori said they have a photographer who publishes things on the Web on Sundays so that if readers check the Web site Monday morning there is something fresh there.

John said that his paper was bluntly honest with readers how much his paper was struggling. He also made a promise to readers that they would get more stories and his paper has delivered on that promise.

Steve and Lori said they tightened their Tuesday paper to have more bulk so neither publication added more pages.

Steve said the most positive thing has been that the cut has served as a rallying point for the community to support the newspaper. People in Steve’s coverage area are afraid of losing their paper after losing delivery of the KC Star so they have supported the paper better than ever.

John suggested a little PR by putting in-house ads into the newspaper that explain how the newspaper is changing and how it is going to make things better.

Lori and Steve both said that they were both considering cutting more days if that’s what it comes to.

John says you really start to be a different product completely when you cut more than just one day. The paper becomes more feature based and less about being timely.

Steve believes that the day of the Internet being the main money maker is coming sooner than later.

Filed under: Economic issues, Management principles, ,

10:05 session: Reporting on the Stimulus plan

By Andrew DeWitt
Photo by Kyle Spradley

EXAMPLES OF REPORTING ON THE STIMULUS PLAN AND THE POWERPOINT OF THIS PRESENTATION WILL BE UP ON OUR APME WEB SITE IN ABOUT 30 MINUTES.

This session is on how to report about the stimulus plan and how newspapers should report on how tax payer money is being used.

On the panel will be David Ledford, executive editor for the The News Journal; Matt Apuzzo with The Associated Press; and Bill Allison, who is with the Sunlight Foundation.

“Most stimulus packages are doing local work improving local things. This can be community journalism at its best. The Sunlight foundation is going to provide Webinars so that staffs can easily understand the information.

Where has the money gone so far?

  • $16 billion in federal contracts — data already released
  • $280 billion given to state and local governments — data available on Oct. 30.
  • Who can determine if this money is spent wisely?

Stimulus money funds projects in your communities

  • Only local papers can cover these projects
  • They know their communities
  • They know the priorities

This is community journalism at its finest.

“If local papers don’t cover these stimulus projects, no one will,” Apuzzo said. “It’s going to force people to pick up the newspaper.”

APME, AP and Sunlight will help

  • AP will provide Recovery data and its expertise
  • Sunlight Foundation can do a Newstrain, Webinars

APME will collect the stimulus stories so you can follow stories your colleagues have published.

Story examples can be found on journalgazette.net that can give your staff ideas about what can be covered in your own backyard.

One of the key issues is discovering how money is being spent at the local-local-local level.

What projects are being approved? Another example is what the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel found.

Should the government spend $426,000 to replace a bridge that only 10 cars a day use in Arena, Wisconsin?  All of the money was paid with stimulus dollars.

“This bridge was practically a bridge to 3 or 4 private farms in the middle of no where,” said George Stanley, managing editor of the Journal-Sentinel said.

How many jobs were created or saved?

“We must be really skeptical about these numbers are being released about saved jobs,”  Matt Apuzzzo said.

  • Major purpose of Stimulus
  • Hard to count a saved job
  • Can we really trust those numbers?
  • Who will check them?

We’ve only just begun to cover this….

Low traffic border crossings get upgrades worth $420 million…

$272 million in stimulus grants from FAA to low priority projects

“The politics of this is what makes it really interesting stories,” David Ledford said.

Getting started isn’t hard

  • Some very detailed descriptions
  • AP cleans it up.  Data from AP comes ready to use. AP makes it available to member papers quickly.
  • Find all the bridges getting stimulus funds in your readership area. “More often than not, they’re repaving good bridges instead of fixing bad bridges because that’s easier to do,” Matt Apuzzo said.

What can you do with the data? Investigate what companies are receiving settlement funds.

“Red flags jump out all the time,” Apuzzo said.

Sunlight puts data on your iPhone App showing what people and companies have received stimulus money.

Only your papers can tell us…

  • Is the stimulus working?
  • How is money working?

Filed under: Discussions, Economic issues, , , ,

Managing change doesn’t make you crazy, clueless, or cruel

by Mary Poletti

Jill Geisler, group leader for Leadership & Management Programs at the Poynter Institute, set out to address some challenges for newsroom leaders in this climate.

Start positive, she said. What’s working? she asked the audience. What are we proud of? Responses included:

  • “Learning new things”
  • “That people are still laughing in the newsroom”
  • “We are still breaking news”
  • “Writing tighter & smarter”

Geisler used a light, pop-culture method to drive home an important lesson. What can managing editors learn from Whoopi Goldberg’s sassy lounge singer-turned-nun/choir director in Sister Act, Sister Mary Clarence? In the film, she turned a terrible choir into a unified, high-performing team. It was a teaching lesson for Geisler, and she showed a clip from Sister Act of Sister Mary Clarence’s first choir practice and urged tables to take notes on what Sister Mary Clarence did well as someone trying to lead change.

After the film, she asked what the audience wrote. Some responses included:

  • recognizing that all of the nuns were different and empowering them to find their individual voices
  • starting out by organizing
  • putting the right people in the right places
  • not alienating the previous leadership and turning it into a group struggle
  • giving the group some of their passion
  • letting them fail at first
  • starting small
  • accepting old leadership at first before putting it down
  • taking small steps
  • using humor
  • coaching — and using coaching language (Geisler: We all used to be really good at something before we became managers, and we’re still tempted to show off every once in a while.)
  • making expectations clear
  • encouraging listening to one another
  • calling out underperformers without humiliating them
  • making clear why what they’re doing matters

Sometimes we get so busy “feeding the beast” in the daily hustle and bustle of the newsroom, Geisler said, that we forget to make it clear why what we’re doing matters.

Organizations differ, but change challenges are similar, as are solutions (that can be customized to your newsroom), Geisler has learned from the large volume of “change literature” she has read, much of which she quoted and cited during her presentation.

Geisler shared five key principles on which she hoped to elaborate: education, emotion, motivation, collaboration, and communication.

Education: We are constantly learning. “Learning something new makes us temporarily incompetent,” a quote Geisler shared read, and that learning anxiety makes people push back — “I won’t get it,” “I’ll look stupid,” “I have to drop what works,” “I’ll be the outsider,” “I’ll permanently lose credibility.” We choose to change when our survival anxiety becomes greater than our learning anxiety. A lot of managers think that means scare tactics, but that doesn’t work. Don’t increase survival anxiety (it’s high enough right now), reduce learning anxiety. Make training a priority. Understand how adults learn. (How, for example, did you learn how to use your new cell phone?) Put training into action ASAP, and have an immediate follow-up plan for its use. Reward risk-taking. Provide role models — and be one.

Emotion: Yes, it exists in newsrooms! We hope for optimism, but we get anger, sarcasm, or frustration because newsrooms perceive their managers as threatening or as jerks. You are managing the space between the platforms, with all the emotions that brings. The emotions of change are inwardly focused: shock, numbness, denial, blame, anger, and depression. Start moving from the inward to the outward. Understand emotions — theirs and your own. Allow people to let off steam (within reason). Don’t react to emotional outbursts in kind. Remember the power of symbols — for example, do something with all those empty desks, and maintain certain newsroom traditions. (And don’t hide out in your office with the door closed for too long!) To focus change emotions outward, bring the best of the past forward, make the process transparent, orient to the future, and be realistic while sharing genuine optimism. John P. Kotter wrote, “Changing behavior is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping them see a truth that influences their feelings.” People don’t analyze>think>change, they see>feel>change. Quick wins, new stories, and role models are key to helping people see, then feel, then change.

As an example of the success of a newsroom, Geisler shared about the recent success of a veteran Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter, which reinforced a strong sense of mission and really boosted morale in the newsroom, sending a message about the strength of the newspaper.

Motivation: Geisler urged the audience to remember a time when they couldn’t wait to get to work and respond with their memories, like Election Day, the day of a new product’s launch, working on a big stretch assignment, the day after 9/11, and more. The common thread in those memories, Geisler said, is not the extrinsic reward (not so many of those these days), but the intrinsic motivators — what drives us. The key intrinsic motivators, according to Kenneth W. Thomas, are competence (doing more of what we’re good at), choice (letting everyone in the newsroom contribute to big ideas), meaningfulness (“boy, Sister Mary Clarence told us about that” — reminding people of the meaning of what they do), and progress (giving constructive feedback to reporters). In terms of feedback, knowledge workers like reporters value autonomy, the right kind of feedback (non-controlling and attentive, among other things), and a voice in designing their work, especially when it involves change. Which brought Geisler to…

Collaboration: Innovation requires collaboration, Geisler said. According to Keith Sawyer, “group genius generates breakthrough innovation.” According to Lynda Gratton, “boundary spanners” are key — staffers who naturally network, build bonds, exchange information, and solve problems. Geisler encouraged the audience to identify and acknowledge theirs. What do managers do that creates and/or encourages those people? To foster collaboration, Geisler shared what she called a simple tip: Discover what makes a great day at work for others — boss expectations, professional standards, peer values, personal goals.

Communication: Communication fuels change. Relentlessly communicate about that change, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton wrote. “Leaders manage meaning,” Warren Bennis wrote. “They find ways to make dreams apparent and alive to others.” Communicating relentlessly — in many ways, not just in meetings, but in conversations, word of mouth, and what Geisler called “meetings before/after the meeting” — is the key to making change apparent and alive. Remember, with regard to change communication, that what you’ve known for a while, reporters and newsroom employees are just now processing. Information is currency. People don’t hear well when their emotions are engaged. Even stupid rumors need to be addressed.

Geisler ended with a mash-up of motivational film speeches — “40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes.” “I don’t know if you can rise to that level of inspiration every day, but try,” Geisler said. “Journalism needs it.”

Jill Geisler presents techniques for managing change
Jill Geisler, group leader for Leadership and Management Programs at the Poynter Institute, challenged editors to foster communication among their staff to motivate them in times of innovation and change, Oct. 28, 2009, in St. Louis, Mo. (APME 2009 Coverage Photo/ Emily Stewart)

APME editors respond to Jill Geisler's presentation
Audience members watch as Jill Geisler played a short clip from the movie “Sister Act” to provide comic relief during her conference workshop on change. She suggested managers teach their employees by reinforcing their competence, Oct. 28, 2009, in St. Louis, Mo. (APME 2009 Coverage Photo/ Emily Stewart)

For help or inspiration, contact Geisler at jgeisler (at) poynter (dot) org.

Download Geisler’s handouts:
Change checkup
Rules of change
Four barriers to collaboration

Filed under: Changing times, Discussions, , , ,

Photos from first session

Paul Anger, publisher of the Detroit Free Press, and Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune, led a discussion on how newsrooms are dealing with the pressures of the current market.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/apme2009/

Filed under: Workshops, , ,

Losing focus: Diversity in newsrooms, news coverage

Diversity

Troy Turner, right, editor of the Farmington Daily Times, describes his paper's coverage of the Navajo community in Farmington, Ariz.

By Sarah D. Wire
Photo by Jim Buell


Diversity cannot be forgotten just because money is tight, panelists for the Losing Focus session said.

This means what we cover, who we represent and how we create our staffs.

Newspapers need to take stock now of how they’ll cover the 2010 census and immigration reform. Gilbert Bailon, editorial page editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said he thinks the country will address immigration reform within the next year.

“These two things need to be looked at now,” he said. “We have to get past this shift that my market isn’t going to be touched by immigration.”

By 2042 the country will be “majority minority,” Bailon said. One in five children in the U.S. is Hispanic. “It’s something we as newspaper editors need to be aware of,” he said.

Newsrooms can’t ignore internal diversity either, Wanda Lloyd, executive editor of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser said.

Lloyd said when the money crisis started the diversity conversation ended. The number of minorities in the newsroom is half of the national average.

“We’re not getting close at all,” she said.

Lloyd said papers should think about whether they are prepared to have conversations about race and we can’t rely only on minorities to have that conversation.

Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle outlined what her paper has done to increase diversity.

A group of reporters made sure the initiative were actually implemented, she said.

Their focus was on recruitment, retention and honest reporting of the community.

Outside of an initial reader panel, she suggests continuous outreach such as a social media workshop for young, black leaders in the community.

“I can’t emphasize how important it is to have a group of people to help the executive editor execute,” she said. “It doesn’t cost anything to start out with a diversity committee of passionate people.”

For retention, it’s about giving people opportunity and putting together a pathway of professional development, Magnuson said.

The diversity committee at the Democrat and Chronicle created a multimedia academy for high school students in the inner-city.

Troy Turner, editor of the Farmington Daily Times said being aware of the actual diversity of your coverage area, including religious and cultural diversity, is important.

His suggestions include: be comfortable and proud of who you are, you’ve got to get out into the community, know the cultural and racial issues in your community, understand the value of earned respect, hire good journalists first and foremost, grow your own diverse staff through interns and high school students, recruit minorities based on staff success stories.

The panel only got to one question which is: My staff is shrinking, my people of color are leaving… what strategy do you recommend to build a diverse staff?

Lloyd suggested bringing the community into the conversation and having them help with story ideas and writing.

Magnuson said cultivate your staff to believing in the mission of diversity.

“It’s really all about genuinely conversing with people.. about the core value you hold dear and eventually they believe your sincerity,” she said.

Filed under: Economic issues, , , , , ,

Losing Focus: Has the Economy Sapped Efforts to Build Diverse Staffs?

Watch it live on UStream. Or keep track of the discussion on Twitter @APME2009

3:15 APME Session

Through buyouts, layoffs and attrition, most newsrooms have lost staff. What is the state of efforts to build diversity in newsrooms, and what are strategies for trying to fix things in an uncertain economic time?

Moderator: Alan D. Miller, managing editor-news, The Columbus Dispatch.

Panelists: Wanda Lloyd, executive editor, Montgomery Advertiser, Troy Turner, editor, Farmington Daily Times, Gilbert Bailon, editorial page editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Karen Magnuson, editor and vice-president/news Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Filed under: Discussions, Diversity, , , , , , ,

Q&A with Gerry Kern and Paul Anger

By Sarah D. Wire

Don’t forget you can watch this live at Ustream.

Key information from the Q&A

Kern: “We’ve got to get more products out there that meet consumer needs in ways we haven’t before.”

Anger: The content has to connect with the community despite the platform, not because of it. “We’re getting better” at the different platforms “but it’s really the information.”

On how he sold the newsroom on making watchdog journalism the main focus.

Kern “People in the newsroom like. It wasn’t a hard sell. It was trying to explain how you look at the world. You’re here to look out for everyone’s interest. The thing they needed to see that I was behind it and I was willing to back them up. Not being afraid to shake some things up and make people mad.

“We then had some successes. It’s then taken off like wildfire.”

On how readers reacted to your aggressive editorial stance which included publishing editorials on the front page?

Kern “Readers loved it. People in Illinois were damn mad and fed up. There was a vacuum of leadership missing and we stepped into it. We felt like we needed to go on a moral high ground. The response was positive.”

“We said we were going to stand up and lead opinion and that’s what we did.”

What tensions did you encounter from inner-city customers as you made changes?

Anger: Freep didn’t see much tension from a particular group. “People that liked the crinkle of the paper with their coffee, that was the common thread.” He said they didn’t see people feeling disenfranchised based on where they live.

Kern: The Trib is focusing on not forgetting the inner-city.

How do you balance being a watchdog and deliver the bread-and-butter kind of news?

Kern: The Tribune is such a large paper that it currently might not be the best place for information on a local council meeting. “For too long we stood on the sidelines and just put the story out there… there was no sense of us being in the game because we had a stake in the community.”

Anger: It amounts to a matter of time. The Free Press publishes a list of ‘decisions to be made that week’ that outlines issues in the individual communities. “You don’t adandon” but you look for what you can do.

Filed under: Discussions, Economic issues, , , , , , ,

Paul Anger presents The Detroit Plan

By Sarah D. Wire

“The headline in Detroit is so far so good,” Paul Anger, editor of the Detroit Free Press, says.

He outlined the goals of The Detroit Plan, which are:

  • Keep the newsroom strong
  • Retain two independent newspapers
  • Make digital delivery of the news the priority
  • Retain our print revenue

“Our plan has shifted us further away from print and freed us up to do things that are exciting,” Anger said.

An e-edition available to subscribers lets people see the paper online just as if it was printed. Anger said it has been a surprise hit.

Anger said people like the three day delivery.

The Free Press print a compact version of the paper of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. This paper isn’t home delivered. It is geared toward being an impulse buy and is “colorful, fast reading.”

The Thursday and Friday papers have more advertising and separate sections.
The Sunday edition has more room for enterprise and investigative pieces.

The number of unique Web visitors is up 14 percent in 2009. Traffic spikes on the e-edition on days when the paper isn’t delivered.

Anger said people like the three day delivery.

Anger said the Free Press still gets 80 percent of its revenue from print. He said despite the shift, their decrease in ad dollars isn’t any more than other metros.

“This is a new era, people will find good journalism on our Web site,” Anger said.

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  • That's the conference, folks! :) Won't you join @APME Oct. 20-22, 2010, at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.? (#apme10, anyone?)| 8 years ago
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