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  • 5 questions with LEDE member on Springfield newsroom visit

  • Here are five questions with Pittsburg (Kansas) Morning Sun editor and LEDE member Matt Clark, who recently visited the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill.

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  • Members of the 2010 GateHouse News & Interactive LEDE class have been visiting some of the company's top newsrooms to learn how they operate.
    The 10 members of the LEDE class will each spend two days working with top editors, and follow an initial three-day training program at N&I headquarters in Downers Grove, Ill., and a summer of exercises where participants researched and reported on each department in their local operation. This year's program will culminate in another training seminar in October in Downers Grove.
    Here are five questions with Pittsburg (Kansas) Morning Sun editor and LEDE member Matt Clark, who recently visited the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill.
    1. Talk about one idea you brought back to your newsroom that could right away change the way you operate.
    One idea that I came away with that I can implement with immediate impact is our budget process. Currently, our newsroom has a budget process that includes having news staff list their stories for the next paper as well as any advance work being done. That consists of a story slug and the name of the author. One thing that can make the process easier for the entire newsroom is expanding on that budget process. Increase the amount of information on each story and include one-two sentences on what the story is about; list photo potential as well as breakout or ASF possibility as well. That way, anyone can read the budget and know exactly what is planned and how the story is going to read. The desk and the editor will know exactly what to expect and can plan page placement and web options accordingly.
    2. What did you learn about internal communication and planning strategies in a successful newsroom model?
    The SJ-R takes planning to a new level. There are various meetings throughout the day that include different members of the news staff as well as outside departments on coverage planning and future projects. I learned that keeping everyone in the loop as for what to expect in coverage keeps everyone on the same page and increases the level of communication, not just with other departments (advertising, press and circulation), but also just within the newsroom itself.
    3. What did you learn about newsroom leadership in your visit?
    It is important for newsroom leaders to be hands-on without seeming to micro-manage the process. Guidance and coaching is the key and letting staff take the reins and have ownership of their work is very important and helps with the overall productivity of a newsroom.
    4. Long term, what ideas or practices did you learn that you place to use to build your skill set or make improvements in your newsroom?
    Definitely the planning aspect. While what the SJ-R does regarding planning and preparation may not work at every newsroom, a lot of those practices can be scaled down, depending on each situation. Communication is extremely important. Regardless of whether a particular issue affects a certain member of the staff, informing them of what is going on does give a sense of overall product ownership.
    Page 2 of 2 - 5. The memory from your visit that will stick with you the most.
    I would be lying if I did not say that having a famous corn dog at the Illinois State Fair would not stay with me for a long time. Seriously, however, how Jon (Executive Editor Broadbooks) executes daily planning and communication is something that most young editors should strive to achieve. The SJ-R is a prime example of very solid journalism, both in print and online, and it is because of their intense planning and execution that makes it so.

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