It's been a few weeks between columns, and I have several updates for you.
• First, I hope you've noticed Politics and Projects Writer Kerry Lester is in Tampa covering the local angles of the Republican National Convention. Next week, State Government Writer Mike Riopell will be in Charlotte doing the same for the Democratic National Convention.
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Executive Editor Madeleine Doubek, a former political editor who has covered several national conventions, developed the coverage plan, working with our writers and editors.
"The conventions are not just about the national presidential race," she says. "They're about the local residents who are involved, as well as about contests to come for Congress and more. We intend to take and share the pulse of the suburban and Illinois delegates, while also providing enterprising analysis that helps our readers understand how conventions and campaigns work and what suburban and Illinois politicians are doing to build support for themselves and their national ticket.
"We also aim to introduce readers to their politically active neighbors with our delegate diaries and to provide a glimpse of the convention experience through our Recount blog and convention postcards."
I hope you've noticed also that we've strengthened the presentation of convention coverage on the website. What do you think? Is it a hit or a miss?
• By the way, by the sound of the titles, you would think that the Editor (me) reports to the Executive Editor (Madeleine). Not true. It's the other way around. For an industry that's supposed to be all about clarity with words, the newspaper industry is oddly unclear in its description of newsroom hierarchy.
• Speaking of elections, our editorial board is in the midst of endorsement interviews. The Nov. 6 ballot will include elections for Congress, the state legislature, county offices and some judicial posts in addition to president. (We expect to offer a recommendation in the presidential race, but without the endorsement interview.)
What's the one question you think we should be asking these candidates that we typically might not think to ask?
• The Ryder Cup will be played at the Medinah Country Club at the end of September and it will be one of the biggest sporting events to ever take place in the suburbs. We intend to own the local coverage.
We've already stepped up our reporting, and with Len Ziehm and Mike Spellman, we think we've got the best golf writers in town to lead our effort.
We're introducing a special Inside the Ryder Web page, and I hope you'll like it. We're experimenting with a couple of elements on that page, and if we're successful, we may apply them to other coverage areas in the future.
One of those elements is Storify.
• Let me get out of the way and let Teresa Schmedding explain what we're doing with Storify. She's our assistant managing editor in charge of digital operations, and the experiment with Storify is her idea:
"Storify will let us turn what people are posting on social media into stories. We can collect the best tweets, Facebook posts, Flickr photos, YouTube videos (to just name a few common social media outlets) and present them in an interactive story format.
"Did you ever hear someone talk about a funny video they saw or an interesting tweet? And think that you don't have time to check all those sites to keep up with what's happening? Storify lets us do that for readers. And the nice thing about it is that it won't be gone in two minutes. All the elements include links to the original source if you want to go find more. You can also comment on what we post.
"Here's a sample one I created today for our readers: http://storify.com/DailyHerald/ask-the-editor-john-lampinen
"In this case, we'll be using it to curate interesting things online related to the Ryder Cup and embedding it on our website here.
"Other cases where it could be used are huge, breaking stories. The format lets you deliver quick updates that help people see what's happening as a story unfolds while tapping into what people are saying on the street. Or it could just be on something fun, like a collection of reactions to bad fashion on Oscar night.
"Our Ryder Cup storify, and today's sample written for this column, can be found on our Storify page: http://storify.com/DailyHerald."
• Here's advance word on an announcement I expect to make next week. We haven't decided yet what we're going to call it, but we're going to be adding a feature that pays tribute to inspirational teachers in the suburbs.
We will solicit suggestions from the community of teachers to consider for this recognition.
There's been considerable controversy in recent years about teacher pay and pensions and all, and it's a legitimate public debate.
But what's been sort of lost in that controversy is the impact teachers have on our children and on the community. Who among us, after all, can't recall teachers who really made a difference in our lives?
So that's something we want to do. Zero in on some really good teachers in the suburbs, the best of the best, and write about who they are and what makes them so good.
If you have suggestions for how we might do that, please pass them on.
• Finally, the fall prep sports season has started, and for 20 years, we've been blessed with one of the suburbs' premier prep experts, Marty Maciaszek. Sadly for us, Marty is leaving the staff for a position with the National Sporting Goods Association in Mount Prospect. We're hoping to work something out with him where he still can contribute to our coverage, but whatever the case, we're going to miss his active involvement and we wish him nothing but the best.
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