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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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