Transparency will speed the turnaround

My weekly column for the daily newspaper I lead in Torrington, Conn., this week talks about our new school superintendent, whose selection raised eyebrows because it was his first superintendent job and he’s only 33 years old.
He inherited a lot of problems, and a closed, arrogant culture of one-sided decision-making and poor communication with the people the school district is serving. Just a few segments, you know, like students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.
He has a whole “transparency” thing going, writing a blog open for everyone to read that details why he has made specific decisions (how he calls a snow day was the most interesting so far … it’s unbelievable how much criticism and second-guessing happens no matter what you do in anything short of a blizzard here).
The new CEO of our company, John Paton, is taking a similar approach, starting with unprecedented (for us) openness and outreach to the more than 3,000 employees of Journal Register Company, and writing a blog of his own to detail how he’s transforming the company into a traditional print-focused newspaper company to a multi-platform local media company.
He’s putting it out there knowing that not every step along the way will be smooth. We’ll try some things and fail at them. Other experiments will work.
Not being afraid to try new things and fail in public is a necessary part of “the new news ecology.”
It’s not something traditional newspaper managers are used to. But as I conclude in my column today:
When you are publishing something as high-profile and public as a local newspaper or local news Web site, or running a public institution such as a school district, people are already discussing your strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, opportunities.
It’s time to engage them in that discussion, learn everything we can, and grow. How exciting is that?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s