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Posts by Butch Ward

About Butch Ward

Butch Ward is senior faculty and former managing director at The Poynter Institute, where he teaches leadership, editing, reporting and writing. He worked for 27 years in newspapers, at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore News American, and was managing editor in both newsrooms. Before joining Poynter in 2005, he spent three years being covered by journalists as vice president for corporate and public affairs at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. Ward has taught and facilitated programs for a variety of newsrooms and journalism associations, including the Committee of Concerned Journalists, American Society of News Editors and Associated Press Media Editors. He has taught leadership and narrative writing to journalists in South Africa and Australia, and has helped lead specialized Poynter conferences on subjects ranging from gun violence to America’s New Veterans to the impact of social media in election campaigns. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Ward lives in Wallingford, Pa., with his wife, Donna, who helps run the library for a kindergarten academy of 250 students. Their daughter, Caitlin, is pursuing a nursing degree. Their son, Coley, and his wife, Suz, live in Newton, MA, with Cassidy, the most beautiful granddaughter in the whole, wide world.
NEWS

I almost let my journalism job destroy my marriage. Don't make the same mistake.

Let me ask you: When did you decide that your commitment to work was the most important commitment in your life? Chew on that for a minute. The headline interrupted my morning coffee in mid-swallow: “Walmart is asking employees to deliver packages on their way home from work.” The story in The Washington Post on Walmart’s latest … Read More
NEWS

Is your staff ignoring your feedback? Maybe it's your delivery.

Picture yourself in this scene: You’re a manager about to share with a staffer your concerns about a piece of work they’ve given you. Maybe it’s a report, a proposal, a visual project. You want to make sure the staffer hears your concerns as constructively as possible. What do you do? “I always start by saying something I like about … Read More
NEWS

How your newsroom can cover the Trump story (without covering Trump)

Every time I take a spin through my Facebook or Twitter feeds, I’m reminded that there’s only one big story right now: Trump, Trump, Trump. For news organizations that wrestle with what coverage their community is most likely to consume, this is one of those rare moments when the mystery is solved. Give ‘em Trump. Love him or loathe him, … Read More
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Want to run an effective newsroom? Don't lead like Donald Trump

It won’t be long now. Today, Donald Trump becomes “leader of the free world.” Might even be a tougher job than running a staff of journalists. It’s a situation that got me wondering: Should I be studying the President-elect’s approach to leadership? Could his style help the women and men who manage newsrooms and other staffs be more effective? The … Read More
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The lessons of breaking news coverage can make your newsroom better every day

Ask the staff of almost any newsroom when they are at their best, and you’ll usually hear: When news is breaking. Why? Because everyone comes together, they'll say. Ideas come from everywhere and everyone. We try things. And for once, we’re certain that we’re working on coverage that our community needs. So here’s my question: If they know these ingredients … Read More
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Want your newsroom to collaborate? Help veterans and beginners learn from each other

The week of my 64th birthday began with an email from Ben, my editor. “This is too good,” read the subject line. No one recognizes a story pitch faster than a former editor. I braced myself. “There's a new sitcom about a veteran, decorated journalist managing a bunch of millennial reporters…. Would you take a look and let me know … Read More
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10 ideas for dealing with that colleague who's now your boss

At some point in your career, you’ve probably had this happen: One of your colleagues is becoming your boss. Do you remember how you reacted when the announcement was made? How you acted toward the new boss on day one? It can be awkward. One day you’re complaining to each other about management, and the next day your former crony … Read More
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You're making the abrupt leap from staffer to boss. Now what?

It is Friday afternoon and you’re a reporter at the top of your game. Your story is featured on the newsroom’s homepage. Your inbox is filled with tips from sources, requests from viewers, complaints from city council members. A young reporter asks for your advice. A local journalism professor wants you to teach her class. But all of this is … Read More
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Sticking to your management resolutions is tough. These good habits can help.

Like a lot of people, I’m more than halfway through this year’s observance of Lent. And something I read the other day about reaching a deeper spirituality got me thinking about another of my aspirations — understanding how to be a better manager. Here's the author's admonition: Unless you make time for spiritual exercise every day, your journey will surely … Read More
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Hey, boss: Future managers are watching you. What are they learning?

Who taught you to be a manager? A lot of people taught me, some of them a long time ago. There was the boss in my early days as an editor who telephoned me on the city desk about 10 one evening and, in a drunken fog, promised to ruin me over a perceived slight. Too young to know better, … Read More
NEWS

Just do it: The no-excuses approach to becoming a better manager

What, I ask managers, would you like to change about the way you lead? “I’d like to be a better planner,” one says. “I’d like to be more flexible,” says another. “I’d like to be less impatient,” says a third. Be, be, be. I’d like to be… But what will you do in order to be a better leader? That’s … Read More
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How are you helping your staff improve? Maybe you need a strategy.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that two kinds of managers worked in newsrooms. The first kind I could always find; they were working at their computer screens. The second kind often tested my tracking skills. They might be in the cafeteria. They might be sitting in a quiet conference room. They might be across the room, leaning against a … Read More
NEWS

From Acel Moore, a life's lesson in how to build real community engagement

For a lot of people in the journalism business, the notion of "engaging the community" is a new idea. After all, for all those years before social media, Web comments and email, the public’s access to newsrooms and the people who work in them was pretty much limited to phone calls (sometimes returned) or letters to the editor (sometimes published). Read More
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Managers, does your staff trust you? Try building your campaign on these 8 ideas.

Whether they're standing behind podiums, working the crowd or appealing to me on my TV screen, every candidate’s message is, at its core, the same: You can trust me. Some pledge to return America to greatness. Some promise to lower my taxes. Some assure me I won’t have to worry about competing for jobs with people from someplace else. They … Read More
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