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Denver Post editor asks: Is there boring stuff in our paper?

greg moore photo from february 2009.jpg
Photo by J. Knight
Denver Post editor Greg Moore at the February 2009 goodbye-to-the-Rocky press conference.
Newspapers across the country are trying to figure out how to make the most of their shrinking resources, and the Denver Post is no exception, as is made clear by a memo sent to staffers last week under the signature of editor Greg Moore.

The note talks about a new initiative, prompted by the latest budget cycle, to reorganize the news operation -- something the paper has done a number of times over the years (to learn more about a July 2007 iteration, click here). This time around, Moore argues that the paper's work is less meaningful than it could be because journalists are trying to cover the same number of subjects they did when the staff had 300 members, rather than about two-thirds that total, as is the case today.

To that end, Moore writes, the Post is holding a series of staff meetings. Attendees are told not to "whine," but are encouraged to call out anything in the paper they see as "boring." There'll also be a survey, with an outside firm hired to interpret the results. The idea: If the Post can't be broader, it should get deeper. Read the memo below:

Colleagues:

I would like you to join a journey to make our news operation better.

This new budget cycle gives us a great opportunity to reinvent ourselves. That means looking at everything -- how we are organized, what we cover and even who covers what.

Obviously, we are a long way from our collective dream of having 300 reporters and editors. We have had to trim our sails some and let go of a lot. Even so, we have continued to do ambitious work. We have spent up to two years on projects -- American Soldier and Trashing the Truth. We have done other award-winning enterprise and we put out a dizzying number of excellent sections every week, all with a little more than 200 journalists.

But in the process, we are sometimes exhausting ourselves by behaving as though we still have 300 people, covering a broad swath of topics and communities, but not always having the impact we want.

Our goal is to stir the pot. We want to do journalism that causes readers to react; we want to be deep, not just broad; we want to own topics readers really care about and tell people stuff they don't know. Most of all, we want to be excited about what we are publishing the next day, even the next minute.

Together, I want us to figure out how to accomplish that.

The editors have been talking about this and have some ideas. Now we want to get yours.

Despite all the good work we do, we believe that we need to cultivate more ideas from the bottom up and that we are stretched too thin, which hinders our ability to break more big ideas and meaningful stories.

A series of meetings with staff should be underway to get your take on how we can do more compelling journalism.

Please speak up in these sessions but try not to whine. These are demanding times for everyone and we all work very hard.

But if you think there is boring stuff in the paper, call it out. Do we need a new approach to our beats? Do we need fewer beats? New areas of coverage? Are you ready for a change?

Help us figure out what should be our priorities and how you could make us stronger. If we need to fine-tune philosophy, tell us how and in what areas.

There will be a survey sent out soon to complement the meetings. It is totally anonymous and we have hired a firm to help us analyze what we gather.

I am confident we will end up in a better place, with a better, tighter focus that realistically reflects the resources we have.

Thanks for your help on this. We will keep you informed as we move forward. This is going to be fun.

Greg


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