What will your legacy be?

Before I left the News & Record, I joked to a co-worker. “My legacy will be that I laid off people and that I started the Good Stuff.” Layoffs you know about and I don’t want to relive. The Good Stuff is a column I started in early 2009 in which  readers submit stories of extraordinary acts of kindness they have witnessed.

There is truth behind the legacy crack. The Good Stuff is one of the more popular columns we publish. Because I solicited and edited the items, people got to know me and would send me notes saying how much they enjoyed the column.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what readers remember about me. (Here I should make a distinction between readers and staff members. I’m pretty sure my bequest to the staff is different.) While I wish the readers identified me with some of the investigative work the paper produced, some of our special projects or the expansion of our online work, I don’t kid myself that they do. After all, right or wrong, I’m not the face they see on any of that.

It raises a question I wish I had thought about more when I was still at the paper: What will your legacy be? And how are you going about delivering it?

Innovator to terminator

Tampa used to be Media General’s center of innovation. Perhaps it still is. But it was hard to characterize it that way Monday when the corporation announced 165 people were being laid off from the Tampa Tribune and its various publications I understand why and how layoffs come about. I had to lay off talented people myself. It’s painful.

Symbolically, it rubs salt in the wound when a corporate officer refers to the journalists remaining as “content generators.” In real life, no one outside of a marketing office would describe journalists as content generators. Certainly not the journalists themselves.

People in the communication business should know better. Worse, people who have done this before should know better.

At the same time I was reading about Tampa, a long lost commercial filmed for Apple with a voiceover by Steve Jobs surfaced and I saw it on Facebook.

Given the success of Apple and its long record of innovation, you might think the industry would take notice.It’s not too late. After all, Apple itself floundered for a while.