On his internal blog (remember that?), LAT publisher David Hiller enumerates the various qualities he’s looking for in a replacement editor-in-chief. (Our favorite part: “With me, as Sam says, no surprises. We need to communicate closely. Always tell me what you think, especially if you disagree. If we always agreed, we wouldn’t need both of us. Don’t be public when we disagree unless we talk about it first, or unless it’s your swan song.” Ouch.)
Hey, we hear N. Christian Anderson is available.
We are in the thick of actively considering candidates to be our next
editor. In recent days there has been considerable ink spilled over what it means for a publisher and editor to be aligned. I thought it might be useful to get some of my thoughts down in writing, and share it. Almost all of this applies to all of us in all parts of our business, so you if want, where you read “newsroom” just put in “the company.”
Let me hear from you, what you think, what you would add, how you would change this for your areas. Consider this a “for discussion” document.
What we’re looking for:
— A strong leader who can make change happen in the newsroom, and
across the company.
— Create a fully multi-media news enterprise, that figures out the right model of integration that also recognizes that interactive audiences and content are different than print.
— Lead faster innovation in the print newspaper, designed to be indispensable, relevant, engaging and fun for how people in SoCal live
and use print today.
— Act on the Reinvent recommendations, and more, to make visible change in the paper. More focus on utility; more graphics and alternative story telling; shorter stories; more inclusive and accessible to more groups.
— Priority and focus is on relentlessly serving our audience in LA and Southern California; priority is content and experience that readers/users cannot get anywhere else.
— Solve the local coverage conundrum.
— Integrity, honesty and leading by example.
— Strong journalism experience, with an appreciation of news and journalism values, but also an appreciation of how enduring values are expressed as media changes.
— Deep commitment to the civic mission of The Times in Los Angeles,
reporting the news, shining a light on problems, holding people to
account, leading a conversation that will help Los Angeles and Southern California improve and prosper.
— Relentless focus on readers and online users, to make sure we are
serving their needs and interests, in ways they want. Always start with the reader/user. Have a very clear definition of who we are writing for, and what they want/need. Define the audience. Use research intelligently and actively, and build the knowledge and capabilities to use research to gain audience insight into newsroom culture.
— Create sense of urgency and speed in making things happen.
— Get the right people in the right positions on your team. We need
people who share the vision and want to take the company in that direction. People who don’t want to go in that direction should be
treated fairly, but should probably go somewhere they will be happy.
— Generate optimism, people want to win. Build passion and excitement
for inventing the future. Get everybody facing forward, not to the past.
— Get more diversity in the newsroom.
— Foster an environment where people feel free to share ideas,
— Strong personal leadership and communication, with publisher,
colleagues, and the newsroom.
— With me, as Sam says, no surprises. We need to communicate closely.
Always tell me what you think, especially if you disagree. If we always agreed, we wouldn’t need both of us. Don’t be public when we disagree unless we talk about it first, or unless it’s your swan song.
— Make sure you engage the newsroom; get out of your office, walk
around, talk to people. Communicate and engage the newsroom in the new
vision. People want leaders with clear vision who want to make things
— Get your senior team engaged and aligned and communicating to each
other. And make sure that they are engaging their people.
— Use good management practices in the newsroom, including using
numbers to measure how we are doing. Readership, circulation,
reader/user satisfaction, productivity, etc. Numbers are not anathema to excellent journalism.
— Build collaboration with the other departments. It is legitimate,
indeed imperative, to build the newspaper content to serve both reader
and advertiser interests. That requires ongoing collaboration between
editorial, advertising, marketing, etc. Never compromise integrity and
objectivity, but successful media has to serve the interests and needs
of both consumers and advertisers. Growing revenue is essential to our
business and civic mission.
— Develop a performance culture that recognizes and rewards achievement that serves customers. Journalistic prizes are fine, but the real prize is growing delighted readers and users who want to come to us everyday.
— Write for our customers, edit for our customers. Great journalism that does this will also win prizes — as shown by some of our best work (Altered Oceans, King/Drew, etc).
— Make sure everybody (and the public) understands our business.
Newspapers are in transition from monopoly to internet driven radical
competition. The days of monopoly revenues are gone. We have to keep our expenses in line with revenues, and re-allocate some investment to
interactive. This means we will have to make changes in the paper to
keep it sustainable as a business and relevant to the print audience.
This will mean new ways of doing things; more user content; more third
party content; more content shared with other papers, in addition to our excellent staff produced work.
— Recruit and develop great people, turn their energy loose, encourage them to take risks and change things. Work at the speed of the web. Try things, change things, see how they work. We can get better every day.