If December is marked by holiday overindulgence, January is about penance — a time to self-flagellate for inadequacies great and small, and to vow to vanquish them.
And, of course, to give yourself one more thing to hate yourself for this time next year, after 2013’s New Year's resolutions peter out in February.
I’ve failed to sustain my share of pledges past — I’m still an eye-rolling, impatient grump, who would be smacked in the head often if I wasn't surrounded by so many nice people. But if I’ve failed to ease up on others, maybe my first New Year’s resolution this year should be to ease up on myself. After all, I did quit smoking one year and drop about 40 pounds (and keep it off) another year.
In other words, all is not futility if you are truly resolute about your resolutions.
So with an eye toward a more perfect me and better newspapers, here are six resolutions for the coming year:
A more orderly, arresting online experience: This isn’t just my pledge; it’s the company’s, although I’m eager to play a role in it. Sorry, I can’t divulge specifics. Just be excited. Very excited.
More constant/consistent posting to our website: I’m quite pleased with the progress the newsroom has made with our online initiatives in the past year. One example: Sports editor Mike McCombs and online editor Angela Hamilton cleaned up — and beef up — our Friday-night prep football scoreboard , and the sports staff did a great job of getting more active on social media to provide in-game updates. Similarly, the news reporters are getting the hang of tweeting and using smartphones to capture breaking news.
The next step for us is a fuller embrace of a “continuous news cycle.” That doesn’t mean 24-hour-a-day staffing — that wouldn’t be prudent given that much less local news takes place at 3 a.m. than at 3 p.m., and few readers would be up to read it at that hour, anyway. However, it does mean more updating of developing news stories throughout the day. Our ultimate goal is to tell you what is going on in our coverage area right now. It will take more than a year to get to that point, but I’m sure we’ll be closer by this time next year.
Improve accuracy: No matter how hard we try, we will make mistakes. We owe it to readers to own up to them, and to make them honestly and infrequently. By my rough count, we did a decent job of reducing the number of mistakes that required corrections in 2012. We can do better, still.
Spend more time with reporters and others — folks we have come to refer to as “content producers” — to help them with story development: I firmly believe collaboration produces the most informative and thought-provoking journalism. I also firmly believe I need to do much more to demonstrate that conviction to a hard-working staff.
Less time on window dressing; more time on things that matter: I’ve been as guilty as anyone of dalliances with bells and whistles because ... well ... because bells and whistles sound pleasing for a while. But if the recession and the other business pangs newspapers have endured in the past decade teach nothing else, it is that we must spend our time and resources scrupulously. I’m going to do my best not to use trendiness as the sole underpinning for new ventures — and, on the opposite extreme, to use ego or habit to justify continuing old ones.
We all want to do work that matters to our readers, after all.
Fewer hokey blog posts ... like lists of resolutions: By now, this one is probably self-explanatory.
Thanks for reading folks, and have a very happy New Year.