In her column last week on “The Private Hell of Managers,” my colleague Jill Geisler wrote of the emotional toll that laying off staff takes on many newsroom leaders.
I’ve heard plenty of those stories in my conversations with newsroom leaders these past months. Stories of frustration, confusion, sadness and, usually, determination to press on.
And time after time, I’ve heard something else, too: that the most effective way for leaders to lift the staff’s morale — as well as their own — is to focus on doing the best journalism they can.
So it was fitting that on the same afternoon that newsroom leaders were thanking Geisler for her column, Stan Tiner, editor of the Sun-Herald in Gulfport, Miss., called me to talk about journalism. Within 24 hours, his call led us to schedule a live chat, which will take place on Poynter Online this Thursday, April 23, at 1 p.m. EDT. The subject? Improving the Sunday newspaper. Why? Here’s the backstory:
Even before this mess of an economy arrived, Tiner and his staff had weathered a few private hells of their own, including Hurricane Katrina.
Tiner said that at the urging of his publisher, he and his newsroom were launching a new effort to improve the newspaper. Where to begin? The Sun-Herald is beginning in a familiar place — the Sunday paper. After all, Tiner said, “it still accounts for 90 percent of our revenue!”
“We want to make the Sunday paper the best it’s ever been,” Tiner said. “We’ve got some ideas, but I’m wondering if Poynter has heard about other things people are doing.”
Truth is, I occasionally hear of Sunday ideas, but so much attention has been focused on multimedia that I mostly hear about consolidating the Sunday paper. What’s going on that’s new?
If your newsroom has introduced a new feature that’s working, tell us about it. If you read a Sunday paper and you really like what’s been done to it, tell us about it. If you have an idea for Sunday that you wish someone would implement, let us know.
We all need good ideas, and now’s a time for sharing. Tiner will appreciate it, and I’m betting a full hour to focus on doing better journalism might be a welcome break for lots of folks.