Ready for those New Year's resolutions from your friendly DuPage editor?
Actually, I'd like to share highlights from a goal-setting session. And because they involve you, gentle reader, I'd like to share some of the things the DuPage County staff is cooking up for 2012.
Each Thursday, reporters, editors and our head photographer gather, principally to talk about big-picture stories -- stories that are so important or compelling they can run in all editions of the paper. A pretty good example appears on today's front page in our so-called centerpiece spot. It's Marie Wilson's profile of Gwen Miller of Lombard, a sexual abuse victim who dealt with her pain by getting in touch with nature. And as the out-of-doors saved her spirit, she wants to do the same for others. If you're an early riser, there may be time today to see Marie talk about her story about 8:45 a.m. on ABC 7 Sunday Morning News.
I changed the agenda this past week, asking everyone to present at least one personal or officewide goal. Here are some of the things we hope to accomplish this year:
• In keeping with the newspaper's mission to be a 24/7 news operation, we vow to get even better at posting stories on our website early and often. Among the ways I hope we'll accomplish this is by coaxing our reporters to fight a journalist's natural urge to have the entire story locked up, to have it finely crafted before letting their editors have their way with it. What I hope you'll see more of is an initial rundown of a story (I've described it to the staff as almost a blurb for the news budget) early in the day with the final version coming along later. This will enable us to have more stories posted by noon, a key time because many people go online for the news during their lunch hours. Those stories also are the ones that make their way into the Daily Herald Afternoon Alert. That's a news report we email to all subscribers who have signed up for our complete digital package.
• Also in keeping with being a 24/7 and multimedia-savvy news operation, it was suggested that all of our reporters eventually become trained as mobile journalists or "mojos." Basically, that means a reporter is trained in covering stories with words, photos and video.
• Courts reporter Josh Stockinger hopes to fashion more of his court stories into big-picture stories -- pieces that detail the whys and wherefores of the myriad court cases he covers on a spot basis. A pretty good recent example was Josh's meticulous report on DuPage County setting a record with 19 murder convictions in 2011. We were drawn to that story by the fact that many had predicted the end of the death penalty in March would make it tougher to prosecute and pry plea deals out of murder suspects. The jury's still out on that issue, but Josh's story told how timing and coincidence produced a banner year for murder convictions.
• Assess, refine and further cultivate our relationships with our news partners, ABC 7 and WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9-FM. Frankly, it's great exposure for the paper to have our stories aired elsewhere with our name attached. In addition to the Sunday morning interview on Channel 7, we also have a reporter discuss a next-day story at 9:20 p.m. Thursday on WBBM. By the way, this isn't a one-way street; we help our news partners by steering them to suburban stories they'd not likely come across.
• Hold confabs with select news sources to let them know more about what we need from them to present comprehensive reports to our readers. I suspect they'll have some suggestions for what we ought to be doing as well.
There were many more ideas, of course, but I'll keep 'em a secret for now, as I haven't even noodled out a way to pitch them to my bosses. But if any stick, I promise you'll be apprised.