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.

Managers, you work really hard. But are you doing your job?

During Poynter leadership programs, newsroom managers receive feedback from their staffs, colleagues and bosses back home. The participants can use the feedback to help decide how well their leadership is working. In recent months, I’ve seen an interesting trend in that feedback—one I would call worrisome. Staffs are letting their bosses off the hook. First, here’s what hasn’t changed: Asked … Read More

Should your newsroom act more like a startup?

The news that Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes decided to sell The New Republic got me thinking about all of the established news organizations I've worked with in the past few years, and what all of them have in common: Like The New Republic, they're trying to become something else. Some are trying to become "digital-first." Or "audience-focused." Or "platform neutral." … Read More

Need a newsroom resolution for 2016? How about reclaiming some expertise?

This business of choosing resolutions for the New Year requires some strategic thought. First, I need to select an area of my life that requires attention. (There are many.) And second, it helps if I select an area I actually can influence. (That winnows the field a bit.) How about this one, editors and news directors: Resolved: In 2016, your newsroom will … Read More

Another downsizing? Here are 5 ideas for helping your staff move forward

Acknowledge that your newsroom has lost people. Don't pretend it didn't happen. (Photo by Deposit Photos) The note from management hit the bulletin board on a Friday afternoon. It was October 1981. The note said that in two weeks, 30 members of the newsroom staff of 150 would be laid off—a 20 percent reduction. Those interested in voluntarily accepting … Read More

The challenge no manager wants: Leading an organization through its grief

Jeff Marks, the General Manager of WDBJ, and anchor Kimberly McBroom (Screen shot, WDBJ) No manager gets out of bed in the morning expecting to have two of his staffers murdered. By a former station employee. On live TV. But that’s what happened to Jeff Marks, the General Manager of WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. In the seconds it took … Read More

Managers, use that 'You're a Fraud' voice in your head to become a better leader

Did anyone out there wake up this morning convinced that today was "The Day?” The day they discovered you don’t know what you’re talking about? I did. Fact is, I wake up on many mornings feeling that way. And I’m not alone. Whenever I ask a group of managers whether they ever start their day with a crisis of confidence, … Read More

9 ways to make your feedback more effective

It's not just about giving feedback, it's how you give the feedback. (Flickr photo by Greg Anderson Photography)Newsroom managers who come to Poynter often return home with a new determination: To give their staffs more feedback. That's a good thing, because feedback happens to be what their staffs need most from them. Positive or negative, feedback is the fuel … Read More

What journalist's skill do the best bosses employ? They talk with people.

Great leaders make the time to talk with their staff. (Flickr photo by John Santerre) When I look back at the columns I’ve written over the past 10 years, a consistent theme emerges: Bosses need to talk with people. That would seem pretty obvious, especially for newsroom managers. After all, journalists know their success depends on how well they … Read More

Enough dieting: Try this midyear resolution to improve your leadership

It's time for a check up on your New Year's resolutions. (Flickr photo by Jeff Golden)Hard to believe, but this week marks the beginning of the second half of 2015. Six months have passed since many of us resolved to improve ourselves in some way—eat smarter, exercise regularly, spend more time with the family, stop reading email 24/7. How … Read More

Leaders, want to increase the impact of your decisions? Shoot for 'two-fers'

(Image created by Deposit Photo)The other day I was in the supermarket, critiquing the blueberries, when I noticed the price: buy 1 pint, get 1 pint free. That's what I call a "two-fer" -- two for the price of one. (I bought two pints.) Later I stopped by the local convenience store for coffee and another sign caught … Read More

Tips to make you a better storyteller

One of the few regrets I have in my life is taking up golf without first taking lessons. Lugging my dad’s rusty clubs to the nine-hole course at Carroll Park, I simply started swinging exactly as Arnold Palmer did on TV. Or so I thought. Decades of hooks, slices and bad habits followed. Occasionally I’ve tried to nudge my score … Read More

Eight lessons learned from a former journalist's job search

As the AARP solicitations in my mailbox arrive with ever-increasing frequency, I am reminded of something a friend once told me about our aging: “When the rock starts rolling downhill, it picks up speed.” Whooosh! Next month I’ll mark my 10th anniversary as a member of Poynter’s faculty, and in addition to wondering where that decade went (and, by the … Read More