Adopt the mantra “Change or Die”

I’d really missed Tim Porter the last year. He had all but stopped blogging at First Draft as book work took precedent. But, it’s good to see him not only blogging again but also releasing his book. From the first look over on PressThink, Tim and Michele McLellan have produced the kind of clarion call for change that I had come to enjoy from Tim’s posts on First Draft. I really like in the post that they focused both on management and staff.

Management needs to focus on how to foster change, they said.

Many newspapers editors found themselves in the ranks of management somewhat by chance. They were good at their previous job – reporting, say, or copy editing – and got tapped for a promotion. They adapted to the duties – and adopted the values – of their new jobs, becoming decisive, directive and demanding, good for driving a fast-paced environment like a newsroom, but less useful in leading organizational change.

I’m one of those accidental managers, even though I don’t really see myself as managing anything. Although I’m an editor, of sorts, I don’t really see my managerial role as pushing people to do something. I’ve never seen that strategy work. I’d much rather blaze trails and lead by doing. That’s what I’ve been good at during my career. I really see my job not as a blogs editor but as a digital journalism evangelist. Participation and engagement just happen to be part of the mix of digital journalism. Passion can be infectious. Success is inspirational, and if managers take risks, it gives their staff permission to innovate.

Tim and Michele also have some great bullet points for staff as well. They talk about the newsroom of the past, and contrast that with the journalist of the future who will:

  • Take initiative and responsibility at all levels.
  • Enjoy brainstorming and trying new things.
  • Learn even from failed experiments.
  • Adopt “Change or Die” as a mantra.

There is a lot of hand wringing about the future of newspapers and journalism, but here we have yet another blueprint for how to not only survive but thrive in the future. Add Tim to your RSS feeds. He won’t disappoint. He’s definitely one of my heroes.