Back in 2004, Ed Cone was bugging me about having my staff start blogging. I resisted because I didn’t quite understand blogs and my staff was already busy enough. But I finally talked about it with our web guru, Tom Corrigan, and he said the digital side of the newspaper’s operation could handle it.
We started with a sports blog, but it didn’t work that well. There weren’t enough hot takes. I decided I needed to lead the way myself. I had written a newspaper column off and on, but I’ve never prided myself on my writing. I was nervous about it because I didn’t have much spare time, I didn’t think my publisher would approve, and, well, I’m an introvert. But one of my management philosophies was, “Let’s do it and see what happens.” So, I followed that philosophy.
That was the genesis of one of the aha moments that changed the way I thought about journalism, and the way I worked.
What I found was just what the smart media observers predicted: an open, engaged group of people who wanted to talk about news and the newspaper. I enjoyed writing short pieces about journalism and the decisions we made at the paper. I heard from readers and other bloggers. They were positive and negative, and that’s fine. Transparency was important to me. And people were there. (Introduced me to a great group of other bloggers, too. You know who you are.)
I followed a dictum that rather than having people come to us for news and information about the community, we needed to go to where they gathered. And, at that time, it was the web. I began to understand much better what people thought about the paper and what we did and how we could do a better job getting them what they wanted and needed.
For me, it was as if a wall had been broken down.