My first responsibility as editor will be to uphold The Daily Tar Heel's long-standing tradition of excellence. But I will also put a premium on innovation that will ensure we remain the best source of information for our community. With strong leadership, we can be at the forefront of reinventing journalism and setting the standard for how a local newspaper should operate. Management Philosophy: People come to the DTH to do the best work they can. Once desk editors define visions and goals for their desks, my job is to do everything I can to help them succeed. If staff members are working to achieve their own goals, the work inevitably is better and the atmosphere more productive. The best ideas come from the bottom up. Goal 1 -- Streamline, professionalize and enliven the newsroom. Our business is news. As editor, one of my primary focuses will be ensuring the best content we can possibly produce. Every other aspect of what we do flows through having quality stories, photos, design and multimedia. I will stress more planning early in the process as the first step in accomplishing this. --Reintroduce maestro meetings to coordinate coverage of important stories and make sure we do the best, most thorough reporting. --Use enterprise more effectively to better plan for big news and to discuss how to make our design more innovative. We will brainstorm ways to creatively present the information. --Pitch stories by page and package at prebudget. This will get all editors more involved and help management know what needs to be solidified or improved the next day. --Help desk editors write a detailed vision for the desk, coverage priorities and a plan to accomplish their goals. Management will review this plan with the desk editor monthly, brainstorming ideas to get around road blocks. At the end of the semester, desk editors will review their platforms and create new plans as necessary. --Work with desk editors to create a list of expectations and goals. We will meet regularly to make sure both expectations and goals are being met, and if not, develop ways to meet them. --Create a written plan for breaking news coverage. With crazy class schedules, no one can identify exactly how things will run when news happens. But we will create a plan to lend order. We also need to create a contingency plan for publication in case we lose access to our newsroom, as we did in February's bomb threat. The basis of trust is accuracy. We will put an even greater emphasis on reliability.
--For stories of unusual importance or controversy, writers will print out their stories, underline each fact, and fact check each statement with an editor. --The managing editor will maintain a database with detailed information on each correction, including the name of the desk, reporter and editors, the type of error, reason for error, story deadline and play. This will allow the editors to better identify error patterns and eliminate them. We will also: --Create a database listing people who leave the DTH and why. To help decrease turnover, we must thoroughly understand why it happens. --Make the budget critique more helpful. Critique of each page will begin with coming up with three good things and three things that need to be improved, before opening to general comments. --Offer more support to assistant editors. We will continue to hold the initial training enrichment, but also hold more frequent assistant gatherings. --Pay a staffer to maintain the calendar and make it the best possible resource. --Recover our online archive and make it more accessible, both as an institutional tool and as a historical resource. --Send more staffers to national conventions. These conferences are invaluable for discovering new ideas and sparking conversation in the newsroom. But for all our professionalism and excellence, we are still students -- and we can't forget that. We need to let our hair down. --Organize more DTH activities, open to all. And if there's a big event happening on campus, like James Taylor's concert, we should make an editing plan so that as many staff members who want to attend can. --Establish a presence in community events. For example, the DTH will field a team in the UNC-Duke Basketball Marathon and challenge the Duke Chronicle's staff. Goal 2 -- Serve our community more effectively online. The Daily Tar Heel is the only news organization devoting vast resources to covering our community, but this is no time to rest. We have huge potential with the move to a new online content management system. I and the Managing Editor for Online will guide the development and implementation of this system with our readers in mind.
To fix: --Develop a process to have more new content posted during the day while maintaining our quality and accuracy standards. --Make our comments spark constructive conversation. Implementing Facebook Connect will help us immensely because commenters will be able to easily use their real names. Other readers will have the option of registering with their real names. Pseudonymous posts will be taken down if they do not meet the standards of our comment policy. --Free our online desk members to do more important and creative work with an automated way to upload our stories to the Web. The online editor will train his or her staffers in search engine optimization to make our stories more easily found, and extra elements will be reformatted to make them more Web accessible. In deference to how readers tend to consume news, every article page will be treated like a "front page" for our readers. --Push our online newsletter. Offer a comprehensive newsletter, a "Quick Bites" for busy readers and a newsletter distributed via Facebook. --Make our related multimedia more accessible. Instead of linking to a video, PDF or slideshow, we will embed it directly in the story. If a story has multimedia elements within it, we will designate that by the link on the home page. We will promote a current multimedia feature prominently on our home page. --Package and more effectively promote our special sections, especially Dive. --Elevate our online exclusives in importance. We will approach these stories with an eye for the Web, and use these stories to build online skills in our writers. Many of these stories are just as good or better than the stories in the paper. In those cases, we will develop a way to give them higher prominence on the Web site later in the day, to circulate fresh content to repeat visitors. To add: --Get our staffers and editors to think more online -- and carry plans to execution. In developing a story idea, they will think about whether we can link or embed documents, make a Google map, capture compelling audio or video, link to a source or post reports earlier in the day. The online editor, multimedia editor and Managing Editor for Online will make notes of these plans and help execute them. --Create a Community Manager position. This person will expand our Twitter and Facebook presences, including through a stand-alone Facebook application, Facebook page and readership group. He or she will encourage and cultivate user-generated
content, including spot news content, feature photos and videos. The manager will also operate a site that brings together our blogging and social media communities. --Create an Innovation Team that will develop Web features anticipating readers' needs and pushing the journalism industry forward. --Use tagging to create topic pages, which will aggregate stories on the topic and include other multimedia, document and data elements. Desks will create short "Who's who" features for the main players on their beats. --Encourage video letters to the editor. Webcams and YouTube make this an easy option for most of our readers. --Create a mobile version of the Web site and create features designed for it. More and more readers are viewing our site on iPhones or Blackberries. At the midpoint of the year, we will check our site's progress with a readership evaluation. Goal 3 -- Give our reporters the skills they need. It is no longer enough for our staffers to only be able to shoot a photo or write a 12-inch story. The Daily Tar Heel has prided itself on being the best journalism-industry training in the nation. Staffers and editors will have every opportunity to broaden their skills and pick up several tools to market to news organizations. Every staffer will have the opportunity to learn and practice all the skills they need to be successful in the job market: • • • • • • Write a 12-inch story in AP style. Capture and edit an audio clip and short video. Upload/resize an image, link to text and embed video in a blog. Make online stories discoverable and easily read. Read HTML and CSS, and be able to fix common problems. Effectively use social media to promote stories and build community.
The DTH will also give our staffers exposure to other skills that are difficult to teach. We will hold a "Skills Fair," where different stations will demonstrate the capabilities of different technologies or skills, and offer resources for more information. --Offer enrichments in specialized reporting to help our reporters get to the next level on common topics like education, finance, crime and government. --Sign up for an account at Lynda.com to teach skills that we don't have. If a staff member wants to learn a skill, they will be able to. --We will support the development of editors in leadership, reporting and technical editing skills.
Goal 4 -- Branch out. The Daily Tar Heel should be the center of discussion on campus and the most inclusive collection of talent. We will make ourselves more open to the public but also take the initiative to reach out. --Become more transparent by making our policies more accessible and by explaining our news processes. We will create a "DTH 101" page on our Web site, including a video of one of our budget meetings, a description of how a typical day at the DTH works, a clear explanation of what desks and editors do and have control over and a clear way for readers to interact with the newspaper. --Focus on recruitment before school lets out and at the start of each semester. This will include diverse groups in demographics and skill areas. We must make the newsroom more representative of the student body. --Explore options with the Carolina Entrepreneurship Initiative. We have a large sustained audience to offer. They have great ideas and business plan knowledge. --Collaborate with groups like Linda Ruel's multimedia class, Chris Roush's business journalism class and Ryan Thornburg's online journalism class. --Continue Allison Nichols' service on the UNC Multicultural Council. --Draft an amendment to the Student Code to codify a focus on transparency, and I will see it through to adoption as part of a continued emphasis on open government. Branching out also means reaching out more into the community and gaining trust. --Hold a large "Unconference" in the winter. This will bring together members of the community to discuss our representation of different demographics, handling of sensitive topics and how the DTH can better serve the community. Planning would begin in the fall, with registration forms and agendas posted early to get reader feedback ahead of time on what discussions are most wanted. --Resurrect the Community Feedback Board, which will meet regularly to critique the DTH and to provide feedback on all aspects of the paper. --Connect with journalism programs at local schools. I would like to regularly visit high school newsrooms and help any middle or elementary school efforts at media. --Explore a way to cover high school sports in Orange County, predominantly online.