Leadership & Management

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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)

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 are you doing with all that?

Yeah, me too. Well, our intentions were good.

So let’s try again. And while it might not be traditional to add resolutions at the halfway mark, let me suggest one that could help you be a better manager, almost overnight.

Make fewer assumptions.

It’s ironic, I know, but journalists (whose work seeks to challenge assumptions with facts) are no different from other professionals when it comes to making assumptions about all manner of things. Read more

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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Making partnerships work: How a team of 50+ international reporters investigated and exposed the World Bank

Michael Hudson, a senior editor with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was project editor for ICIJ’s World Bank investigation.

At a military camp in a violence-stained region of Central America, a Honduran Army officer informed Sasha Chavkin that he knew the reporter’s itinerary – where Chavkin was going and the people he planned to interview. When Chavkin asked how he had acquired this information, the colonel said simply: “Yo soy un militar.” (“I am a military man.”)

Justin Kipkorir displays some household items destroyed along with his home. Kipkorir said Kenyan forest rangers raided and destroyed the house weeks earlier. (Photo by Tony Karumba /  GroundTruth)

Justin Kipkorir displays some household items destroyed along with his home. Kipkorir said Kenyan forest rangers raided and destroyed the house weeks earlier.
(Photo by Tony Karumba / GroundTruth)

In Kenya’s western highlands, rifle-toting officers from the Kenya Forest Service confronted Anthony Langat and Jacob Kushner as the Nairobi-based reporters tried to interview indigenous peoples who claimed forest rangers had burned them out of their homes. Read more

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

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

(Image created by Deposit Photo)

(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 my eye: buy any breakfast sandwich and get the second free.

Another two-fer. (In an unusual show of restraint, I paid for the coffee and fled.)

The whole “two-fer” thing got me thinking about some of the best leaders I’ve known and how they regularly turn the fruits of one good decision into something more – often something even more important.

They know how to get two-fers. Read more

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Monday, June 15, 2015

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5 things John Carroll taught me about great investigative projects

John Carroll speaking in this 2003 file photo. At middle is Todd Merriman, who was the senior editor/news of The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Kathleen Carroll, right, executive editor of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

John Carroll speaking in this 2003 file photo. At middle is Todd Merriman, who was the senior editor/news of The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Kathleen Carroll, right, executive editor of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

When John Carroll visited me and Poynter in January 2013, he was a trim, vigorous retiree in his early 70s. So the news Sunday morning that he had died of a degenerative brain disease, diagnosed earlier this year, hit me hard.

On reflection, among many generous mentors, John may have been the most important to me. As the obituaries noted, he had uncanny skill at commissioning and editing big investigative projects, which won multiple Pulitzers for four different newspapers.

I don’t know that John ever gave a full “how-to” account of his approach, but here are five principles that stuck with me gleaned from the time I worked for him at the Philadelphia Inquirer and conversations later in our careers. Read more

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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API has a new take on innovation — ignore the tribal nature of news organizations at your peril

One model was for a single-subject news website shows the staffing structure of the site. Rather than present the team in a typical org chart, they use concentric circles to show that each group is connected. (Image from the API report)

One model was for a single-subject news website shows the staffing structure of the site. Rather than present the team in a
typical org chart, they use concentric circles to show that each group is connected. (Image from the API report)

News organizations have become more “tribal” than ever, according to a pair of new reports from the American Press Institute, and effective innovators must work with that reality rather than try to bulldoze change through.

At news organizations, Jeff Sonderman, deputy director of API and co-author of the report, told me by phone, a frequent problem is that “we come to the same building every day, but we may not really be working toward the same goals.”

Knowing the need for change or even being willing to change are no longer the big issue, Sonderman said, “but how to do it, how to make it work and stick is.”

The API report identifies reporters as one tribe. Read more

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Monday, Mar. 23, 2015

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Lessons from women in leadership in Europe: Speak out, innovate and do your homework

At journalism school, a Serbian colleague was advised to spend time in the kafana (a traditional local cavern) to source the best news stories. At the newspaper she later worked for, editors would start the day with coffee and a shot of raki. Eventually, she left after she hadn’t been paid for three or four months. Her experience maybe bubbles down to societal and cultural details; suffice it to say, she’s no longer in journalism.

In the European Union – which comprises 28 countries on the continent, not including Norway, Switzerland and most of the former Yugoslav nations, like Serbia – more women than men go to journalism school. A 2013 report from the European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE), which has done the most comparative data fieldwork in this field, emphasized that for at least two decades, women outnumbered men at university level and in practice-based journalism programs. Read more

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Monday, Mar. 16, 2015

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Women need to be as tenacious with raises and promotions as they are with their reporting

As journalists, we are taught to be tenacious. We go after interviews, push for public records and dig for data. But when it comes to advocating for ourselves, why do we often fail to ask the tough questions? This is especially true for women. Many of us hesitate to ask for raises or promotions because we don’t want to be seen as difficult or pushy.

Is this true for you? Think back to your last job offer or your last annual review with your boss. You probably went into those discussions with certain hopes. Maybe you wanted a higher salary, a better schedule or more travel opportunities. Whatever it was, were your expectations met? If not, did you ask for what you wanted?

I’m willing to bet that many of the women reading this, as well as some of the men, are shaking their heads no. Read more

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Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2015

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Ken Doctor: Newspaper companies should focus on news apps

kendoctor150Ken Doctor, media analyst and President at Newsonomics recommends that publishers continue to develop reader revenue while print advertising continues to fade. He spoke during a session at the Media Innovation Tour seminar held at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg on March 9.

Reader revenue is the new source of revenue for most newspaper companies, but the boost from paywalls has now hit a bump. Newsrooms, he said, now need to “earn their way back to the community.”

The particular focus should be on the number of loyal customers who are paying for subscriptions or news apps for access, Doctor said.  The future of news business lies in “relationships with community,” so news organizations should focus their attention converting their readership from “users – to readers – to subscribers – to members.”

That requires reconnecting with the community and becoming part of their news. Read more

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Monday, Mar. 09, 2015

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Dorothy Bland didn’t let a dead rat or a stalker hold her back

Dorothy Bland at USA Today. (Submitted photo)

Dorothy Bland at USA Today. (Submitted photo)

Name calling, a dead rat and a stalker. What do they all have in common?

No, this is not a quiz for an episode in “How to Get Away With Murder,” and I’m certainly not the angry black woman in America.

I became a news junkie as a child and have lived through all these experiences over the last 35 years in journalism as a reporter, editor and publisher. Do not call me a victim as each of these experiences has made me stronger.

I owe much gratitude to Florestine Purnell, the reporter I succeeded at the Rockford Register Star in Illinois in 1980. For more than a year I was called “Flo” because a white male state’s desk editor praised Flo as the only black woman reporter in that 1970s newsroom. Read more

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Monday, Jan. 12, 2015

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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 way, when did Paul McCartney get to be 72?), I find myself thinking about how this gig has fit into the journey we call a career.

My resume: Journalist, 27 years. VP of Communications, 3 years; journalism teacher, 10 years.

The jobs are, in many ways, very different. But each one gave me the opportunity to try something new, to learn from talented and, often, inspirational people, and to contribute something I care about passionately: giving people the information and meaning they need to live better lives. Read more

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