Roll with the punches

The funny thing about my Jan. 11 post is that I never made any mention of it (like via Twitter, which I normally would do) because I didn’t want to attract too much attention to it. I mean, I knew it would be in the public realm, but I wasn’t intending to tell the world, “Hey! I’m scared!” It was a blog post to basically help me collect all the thoughts that were swirling in my head while venting a bit.

So fast-forward to this weekend when I see that my editor, Steve Buttry, quoted from it in his blog posting and column about changes at The Gazette, which also appears in the Sunday Gazette (76,622 circulation!). How entertainingly ironic.

(A side note to Steve: I don’t mind what you did. I’m quite flattered that you thought highly enough of it to use it.)

There certainly will be a lot of changes coming for those of us at The Gazette, and I’m sure that many of us are trying to prepare ourselves.

It’s a scary time, for sure, but I think a lot of us understand why the changes are happening. Newspapers are a struggling industry right now, and many are laying people off, are up for sale or simply shutting down operations.

The Gazette’s taking a different approach. It’s re-inventing and restructuring itself as a community information provider, using the phrase “Complete Community Connection.” (Our CEO, Chuck Peters, is leading the way. You can learn more about it all in his blog.)

I’m not sure if the company will be smaller once the changes are complete, but it’s going to be set up differently, and hopefully in a way such that it will thrive and become a template for other news organizations to follow. That would be very cool, and I really hope to be a part of that.

But the process to get there is going to be a scary time for a lot of us.

The title of this post is a response my dad gave me several years ago when I was struggling with a previous job. I was asking his advice on how to deal with it, and he simply said “roll with the punches.” Somehow it really stuck with me and it helped me handle the situation better. I just did the best I could with my job, but also began working on finding a new one, and it all worked out in the end when I got hired somewhere else.

This is not to say I now want to work somewhere else. I am very happy at The Gazette (just ask my wife) and want to stay there, and in that respect I want to do whatever I can to help the company succeed with this transformation, if it will give me a chance. If not, then I’ll follow my dad’s advice again.

In a way, The Gazette’s rolling with the punches as well. Heck, the entire newspaper industry should be rolling with the punches. You have to do what you can to survive, and the better fighters are hitting back by trying to figure out what works and going for it. Better that than simply keep bleeding money or resources.

Not that I am fighting The Gazette, by the way. I don’t want to hit it back or hurt it, so to speak, but I do have to adjust what I am doing to put myself in the best position to, unfortunately, fight for a spot within the company’s future. All its employees do.

This is not a time to be complacent. This is why I’m trying to learn as much as possible about social media and integrating it with my journalism background. This is why I’m trying to learn html. This is why I’m preparing myself and my resume for potential job interviews for the positions that The Gazette will be offering under its new structure.

I’ve already seen a lot of side benefits from my trying to do all this. I don’t know if I would have joined Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn if I didn’t make that effort to learn about all things online/social media–I now am catching up with old friends and relatives that I thought I had forever lost touch with. This blog probably would not exist.

And thus, Steve Buttry would have had to look elsewhere to cite an example of what his employees are thinking in his column to all…those…readers.

(Couldn’t help mentioning you again, Steve. Despite the current situation, I still have to chuckle at how all that turned out.)

Thanks for reading.

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~ by davidllee on January 18, 2009.

4 Responses to “Roll with the punches”

  1. Actually, what’s happening is the Gazette is further watering down its content (across any and all platforms) rather than enriching it. Staff will be reduced and/or paid less, and you get further away from what matters: good reporting and writing of any meaningful depth. Anybody can blog and twitter, and the Gazette will struggle to stay relevant. Sad.

  2. I really enjoy reading your blog and “tweets” and appreciate what you have written about the company’s transformation.

    And I think more people have read about you than you know! Readership of Sunday’s Gazette about three years ago was around 200,000 and is significantly higher now.

  3. Joe P:
    I can understand why you would think that. Those were concerns I had as well. But after attending meetings and hearing how the Gazette would be transformed, my mind is more at ease. (Our editor explains it best in his blog.
    I don’t think that the content will be watered down. I don’t know if there will be fewer reporters when all is said and done, but I do know that their efforts in reporting, gathering information, asking questions and investigating won’t change. What will change is how they convey the information, via their blogs.
    This is almost certainly a solid benefit for us as a news-gathering organization and for the readers. There’s no time or space constraint with their blogs or with the items that will be presented on the Gazette’s web site. Readers can subscribe to their blogs or follow them on Twitter to find out new information and developments as close to instantaneously as possible. (Who knows, maybe the future will bring us live feeds of interviews. Helmet-cam, anyone?)
    But we will still be taking all that information and putting the most important and essential stuff in the newspaper for those who still want to get their news that way.
    Yes, anybody can do a blog or twitter, but not everybody can cover our region like Gazette staffers can. And if they’re doing their jobs correctly, their blogs should be more informative than most. And these blogs would be complemented with links to other blogs (and anything else on the Web) that focus on issues readers care about. Not only can readers find out whatever they want whenever they want, but they can also provide feedback and input just as immediately.
    It’s a completely interactive way of getting and even sharing information for the reader, and I think the Gazette is smart to transform itself to be at the epicenter of all this.

  4. John: Thanks so much for reading, and for helping get a lot of things figured out regarding how to utilize the Web. Regarding the readership numbers, well, I can only laugh at how my initial plan has backfired so wonderfully. It’s by far the most-read post on my blog. Hello world, I’m a worrywart!

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