Editorial: Naughty or Nice?

By: Nu Yang

By the time you read this editorial, holiday gifts may have been opened (or returned), festive decorations taken down and put away in storage, and many of you may have already started a new fitness regimen (put down that doughnut right now). But before we get to our New Year’s resolutions, let me ask, “Did you make Santa’s naughty or nice list?”

When I look at the newspaper industry, I hope it made Santa’s naughty list this year. True, the numerous headlines announcing cutbacks, layoffs and buyouts don’t exactly spread holiday cheer, but despite that, newspapers still pressed on. When it comes to being naughty, I’m talking about the Des Moines Register’s “Harvest of Change,” a glimpse into the future of virtual reality and storytelling; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s passionate and feverish coverage of Ferguson; the Los Angeles Times’ original video series available on Hulu and DirecTV; the Dallas Morning News’ focus on programmatic advertising. Those are just a few examples of newspapers who no longer want to play nice. They’ve been stepped on, pushed aside, ridiculed, and they’re not going to take it anymore. They’re prepared to get their hands dirty and fight back against naysayers who believe newspapers are a thing of the past.

The newspaper industry is ready for a renaissance. In this month’s issue, our cover story challenges the industry to step up and reinvent itself. The newspaper brand is in need of help, and we’re all guilty of contributing to the damage. It’s time to change our attitude and start being our own champion. The brand and product will keep evolving, but one thing has remained constant: newspapers are meant to inform and be a trusted news source. If that mission doesn’t change, newspapers will most certainly thrive. Starting in this issue, we’ll be running full-page ads to promote the newspaper industry and hopefully, incite our readers to do the same in their publications.

If you’re wondering where to start with your newsroom’s New Year’s resolutions, check out our Business of News column, where Tim Gallagher offers 10 tenets of leadership to consider, including this one: combat cynicism.

It’s no surprise that we in the industry are as cynical as they come. It’s our job to be suspicious and distrustful, but we shouldn’t apply that pessimism on ourselves. I’m not saying we have to sugarcoat our struggles, but we should take more opportunities to celebrate our successes. That’s why I’m looking forward to two upcoming features. In March, we’ll highlight “10 Newspapers That Do It Right,” and the following month, we’ll announce our “25 Under 35.” We’re currently taking submissions for “10 Newspapers” at editorandpublisher.com/10newspapers, and soon, we’ll be on the lookout for the young talent growing in our newsrooms. We’re ready to hear about your victories, and I know we’re not alone in that sentiment.

But why wait until March? Let’s start now. Let’s toot our own horns. Let’s pat ourselves on the back. Let’s pop some champagne as we charge forward into the new year. It’s not going to be easy, but believe me, it’s going to be exciting. So as we head into 2015, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Let’s be bold, let’s be dangerous, let’s be naughty. Go ahead and pick back up that doughnut. You deserve it.

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Published: January 16, 2015


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