Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lessons of Tampa

Gil Thelen now heads the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. However as executive editor and subsequently publisher of The Tampa Tribune, he has been on the frontlines of the convergence battle.

Thelen spoke Friday (19 October) in Newsplex to a seminar on change management. He outlined 12 steps that are necessary for a successful convergence strategy. They include:

1. Put together a team that buys into both the problem and the solution.
2. Implement your strategy relentlessly.
3. Work from data and an outside perspective.
4. Change the conversation in the newsroom, starting with editors and managers.
5. Tell the staff to get on the bus or get off. The challenges facing newspapers today are too crucial to delay or wait.
6. Change the culture. Attack with facts and big ideas.
7. Demand involvement.
8. Geography is destiny. The architecture of a newsroom will help or hinder what you are trying to accomplish.
9. Bet the farm. Don't be afraid to jump into the deep end of the pool.
10. Help the business and editorial sides of the organization understand each other. Their traditional isolation is not helping today.
11. Look each day for levers or points of leverage for change.
12. Demonstrate hope. As Thelen describes it, the optimist is the new maverick.

This is quite a list and it puts the arguments we hear so often into a broader framework. If you are willing to embrace the things Thelen describes, then this is quite an exciting time to be working in journalism.

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