Leadership & Management


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


Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2015


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


Monday, Jan. 12, 2015


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.”


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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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

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Managers: 4 things to check before the year ends

time-managementAs the year winds down, it’s a good time for managers to step back for a little review and reflection. I suggest that you check areas that are time-sensitive as well as those that are timeless leadership responsibilities and opportunities.

You’re busy, of course, so I’ll keep the list concise:

  • Look at your budget. Is there any use-it-or-lose-it money that will evaporate at the end of December? If so, how might you creatively put that to work in a hurry? While you are scanning your financial records, review your spending categories. Are you seeing any trends, any surprises during this calendar year? What does it tell you about planning and priorities? How might that guide your future decision-making?
  • Look at your team. Who hasn’t had some quality time with you in a while?
Read more

Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014


Leaders change lives, thanks Jim Mutscheller

JimMutscheller-300It 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 been rejected.

A summer of digging in wet basements awaited.

Then I took a ride on an elevator with the former pro football player.

Jim Mutscheller had just spoken at a Notre Dame Club of Maryland luncheon at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. A graduate of ND in 1952, he had gone on to play tight end for the Baltimore Colts—and Number 84 had become a hero on my team of boyhood heroes. Read more


Monday, Nov. 03, 2014


How to manage a ‘newsroom star’ and keep everyone happy

This is the core message of my teaching: The most important things leaders do is help other people succeed.

So what happens when they indeed succeed, and in a really big way? What’s your responsibility when a member of your team builds a massive fan base, wins coveted awards, or rakes in high revenues for your organization?

Congratulations, You get to manage a star – with all the joys and challenges that accompany that responsibility.

I hope I haven’t frightened you.

Not all stars are problematic, although recent high profile management/star conflicts (Jian Ghomeshi, Bill Simmons, Don Surber) might leave that impression.

How stars wield the clout born of their contributions determines whether they’re what I call “low maintenance” or “high maintenance.”

Low maintenance stars are collegial, productive, interested in the organization as well as themselves, and committed to core values including integrity and quality. Read more


Sunday, Oct. 05, 2014


Media coverage of Ebola requires a delicate balance

The task of covering Ebola is a tricky one for the media.

Too much coverage, and we look like we’re being exploitative with scare tactics. Too little coverage, and we get blamed for not enlightening our audience of its scope.

An unidentified may wears a mask as he walks back from taking out garbage across the street from an apartment complex where Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient who traveled from Liberia to Dallas, stayed last week. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

An unidentified may wears a mask as he walks back from taking out garbage across the street from an apartment complex where Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient who traveled from Liberia to Dallas, stayed last week. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A vivid photo this weekend that made its way into a lot of newspapers showed an unnamed man taking his garbage out, across the street from the apartment complex where Ebola victim Thomas Duncan lives. The man wore a mask.

Remember when Magic Johnson was first diagnosed with having HIV? Read more