Pulitzer-Prize Winning Innovator Says Newsrooms Need 'Demos, Not Memos'

Fresh off winning a Pulitzer Prize for Politifact, Matt Waite of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, wrote a fantastic blog post that should be stapled to newsroom bulletin boards around the country.

In it, Waite talks about how built PolitiFact was built from scratch on a computer that's on its way to the trash heap. His new mantra, "demos, not memos," challenges newsrooms to step up and produce working demos of projects instead of sitting around holding meetings and distributing memos. He cites that it's the best way to sell an abstract project and see things become a reality on the fast track.

Waite breaks down three core reasons why he prescribes this new mantra. My favorite is:

"1.Ideas are cheap and plentiful. Execution is hard. One of the best books I've ever read is The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun. One of the myths he explores is that ideas are everywhere. The trick is picking which ones to execute on because you have limited resources and limited time to do that. If you're really passionate about your idea, building a demo makes yours stand out from the blizzard of ideas that are spawned every day."

Waite's prescription is excellent reading for newsrooms, especially at organizations wringing their hands debating how to innovate and save the sinking ship.

Another good read for newsrooms is "Getting Real," a book by an innovative Chicago Web development firm, 37Signals, that's built some of the leading Web project management tools. "Getting Real" is, at its core, about agile software development and design, but its lessons can apply to just about anyone working on Web sites. It's a quick and easy read ... and free (the online edition, at least).
  • Will Sullivan

    Will Sullivan is the Interactive Director of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


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