In which, just a few week short of my 30th birthday, I am basically called a “kid,” and possibly even a “damn kid.” Hey, I remember X-Acto knives and waxers, too. We didn’t even have Internet access at my first reporting internship back in 1998.
Feature story is about the Norton Museum’s “Art of Fine Dining” exhibit. Neighborhood of the week is Equestrian Walk in Wellington.
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Vacation time. Let’s meet back here in two weeks.
Meet the gang of dashing young gents behind Backyard Post in the latest post over at The Official Backyard Post Blog. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn an amazing fact about The King’s Academy high school graduating class of 2000.
Anyone using WordPress and the daily blog posting feature of del.icio.us notice that the thingy appears to have stopped working in the past week or so? Or is it just me who broked the Internet? Speaking of which, a link courtesy of Matt Wensing: Down for everyone or just me?
Friend, former colleague and beard-owner Will Sullivan reminded me of a point I meant to touch on in my big honkin’ Backyard Post introductory post. In adding that post to his world-famous Journerdism jambalaya links, Will, who was involved in the project before decamping to the STL, noted that Backyard Post is an example of “what smart people can do at a newspaper when you give them some control and get the hell out of the way.” Right on! Right on, amen and yes, yes, yes!
As Howard Owens has pointed out on several occasions, most recently here, this is not a “period of transition” for the newspaper industry. There is no stability as we used to know it waiting for us on the other side of this economic downturn, no “iPod moment” that will save our old ways and no one outside our own newsrooms working on a miracle solution for our business woes. There is only us, a climate of constant change and the quality of our own ideas.
Backyard Post is not the result of a closed-door, executive committee-driven order handed down to the workers bees in the newsroom, some kind of ridiculous corporate-office, trend-chasing, top-down, reality-detached commandment. Rather, it was the result of a process as honestly organic as that by which our industry’s very best journalism has always emerged. Just as all of a reporter’s best stories inevitably surface from the knowledge and connections he or she develops while covering a beat, Backyard Post leaked out of my brain in a natural process that can be traced from here to here and finally to here.
To my editors’ great credit, they not only enabled and encouraged this process, they enthusiastically jumped on board without even knowing just how wild the ride would turn out to be. If you’re looking for a newsroom with a future, you better find one where you can say the same of the people in charge. A newsroom in which the bosses do not merely pay lip service to the notion that their employees must feel invested to effect true change, but one in which they trust their worker bees enough to cede some actual degree of ownership of that process.
I’ve flogged the following bit of official Toyota corporate philosophy before, and this probably won’t be the last time I haul it out. It seems appropriate to repeat it here:
We accept challenges with a creative spirit and the courage to realize our own dreams without losing drive or energy. We approach our work vigorously, with optimism and a sincere belief in the value of our contribution. … We strive to decide our own fate. We act with self-reliance, trusting in our own abilities.
Backyard Post is part of our attempt to decide our own fate, vigorously and with optimism. We are, indeed, acting with self-reliance, trusting in our own abilities. Our heads are not in the sand, our hearts are not meek, and our outlook is not timid. Again, if you cannot say the same of your newsroom and its leaders, it’s time for you to move on.