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.

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

Leaders change lives, thanks Jim Mutscheller

It was April of 1973, and I was about to spend my last summer as a college student water-proofing basements. An English major about to enter my senior year, I only recently had decided I might like to work for a newspaper, but my applications for internships at Baltimore's dailies – the Sunpapers and The News American – had … Read More

Here's what journalists miss when they don't leave the office

Today let us pay tribute to reporters who, in their quest for a good daily story, boldly defy the Production gods and do the unthinkable: Hang up the telephone and leave the office. Granted, doing a “phoner” often seems like the only recourse when your responsibilities for the day include preparing a story (or two or more) for multiple platforms, posting … Read More

A daily story about a car theft that reminds us why journalism matters

The past few weeks have not been much of an upper for those tracking the health of the news business. More layoffs. New (and increasingly meager) buyouts. And the downsizing strategy that promises to grow ever more popular back at Corporate: All staffers must reapply for their jobs. Only the delusional suggest this is a cycle from which we will … Read More

A call for really good daily stories

Earlier this month I offered some ideas for how journalists can produce better daily stories. The need is obvious. Thanks to the production demands confronting understaffed newsrooms, reporters and editors are increasingly favoring stories that can be done in a day (or less.) But that doesn’t mean those stories need to be thin, predictable or boring. They don’t … Read More

Journalists are losing access, but the public still expects the story

Update: FIU provides credential for Miami Herald’s beat reporter After denying access to Miami Herald beat writer David J. Neal for the football team’s opening game last Saturday, Florida International University has decided to credential him for the remainder of the season, according to Paul Dodson, the school’s assistant athletic director for media relations. This weekend, Florida International University … Read More

Ziggin' and zoomin': Find yourself some metaphors for leadership success

My nearly two decades at The Philadelphia Inquirer had barely begun when I first heard the phrase that, in many ways, expressed both the newsroom’s strategy—and its essence: Zig when everyone else zags. The idea was simple. Don’t cover the story as everyone else is covering it; find an angle that helps the reader or viewer experience the story in … Read More

Brady: Local coverage should involve communities - and help them improve

In the weeks after Jim Brady announced plans to launch brother.ly, a local news web site in Philadelphia, he and Poynter’s Butch Ward had an email conversation about Brady’s previous experiences with guiding digital newsrooms. Ward: More than a decade later, have you changed your thinking in any significant way about local news coverage in the digital age? … Read More

Manager alert: pay attention to your best people

For the better part of the past two weeks, I needed a good slapping. I don’t mean that literally, though some of the people in my life might wish I did. What I needed was someone to snap me out of the insecure funk I get in from time to time. I had writer’s block. Do you ever get it? … Read More

Manager, Interrupted: How to trade all of that multi-tasking for some real focus

Multitasking at work. (Flickr Photo by Jonathan Blundell/ https://flic.kr/p/7bnUSk) It’s 3:00 p.m. You’re sitting at your desk, trying to edit and file to the web the six paragraphs on your computer screen, a breaking account of the fire that has reduced downtown traffic to a crawl. Your phone rings. The reporter at the fire wants to … Read More

Slow down and read this: 6 ideas for making better decisions

Lessons in management, like all good stories, pop up almost anywhere. Case in point: a recent episode of "Restaurant Impossible," the weekly effort by the Food Network’s Robert Irvine to “save a failing restaurant” in just 48 hours. Having seen many of the show’s nearly 100 episodes, I can tell you that in almost every case, poor management contributes to … Read More

Maybe your staff can handle criticism, but are they learning anything?

How well do you handle criticism? I ask because in Poynter’s new report, “Core Skills for the Future of Journalism,” no multimedia skill received as many votes from professionals, academics, students and independent journalists as this one: “Handle Criticism Well.” Must be pretty important, eh? Permit me to suggest why many respondents rated this “skill’ in the top one-third … Read More