When Rob first approached me about this role, the Dallas Morning News had just announced editorial-staff layoffs and my family questioned the future of newspapers (and my sanity). And to be fair, there has been a mind-numbing procession of similar announcements over the past few years.
I was part of the seven-person team that started Business Monday at The News Journal before leaving to join MBNA. So, it’s somewhat heartbreaking to return to the area from Texas and see business coverage there confined to some spot news and daily stock listings that are easily accessible on any smartphone.
The Morning News and many others have closed their stand-alone business sections. Before joining The News Journal, I was editor of the Dallas Business Journal, which competed successfully against TWO dailies (R.I.P., Dallas Times Herald).
I joined Delaware Business Times because I believe we can build a stronger publication with an integrated online presence, and because Delaware’s business community deserves a supportive yet curious publication.
I’m going to make seven promises about the “new” Delaware Business Times and then ask for three things in “return.”
1. Publish high-quality, in-depth stories that drive word of mouth and traffic to the website. This will include regular production of in-depth, data-driven enterprise pieces.
2. Expand our content to attract new readers. That means mentoring from experienced readers, more focus on entrepreneurial successes, and useful content. Our current readership skews older and more senior. We cherish that audience but want to grow.
3. Produce a publication that’s interesting and fun to read, one that co-workers “steal” and office visitors grab while they wait. (If you have a waiting room and don’t get the paper, please call us to subscribe.)
4. Be the No. 1 source for business leads in Delaware. We will strengthen our weekly lists and will soon introduce transaction-based data into our For the Record section.
5. Create engaging web content. Navigation will be more intuitive. We’ll wait to post some stories online until you’ve had a chance to read them here first. Many stories you read on these pages will be posted with links to additional content. New features like Parting Thoughts (retiree reflections on their careers) and Fond Farewells (eulogies of notable Delawareans) may run shorter in the paper, but we’ll include the full interviews or eulogies on the website (check out the Andrew Moore eulogy and Dave Sysko interview online).
6. Build a community and encourage conversation. Our Viewpoints pages will be more issue-centric, and we’ll add a regular Point/Counterpoint feature. And we’ll focus regularly on nagging issues, including the frustrating challenge of improving literacy among inner-city third-graders.
7. Be an incubator for student journalists. I had some success at the Baylor Line magazine giving talented students the opportunity to learn and get bylines that will help them get jobs in a challenging job market. We’ll do the same here with local schools.
Here’s how can help us deliver the best possible product:
1. Hold us accountable. Let me know if we have fallen short of your expectations. If we miss someone on our weekly List or a story goes off the rails, let me know. Write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Help us find interesting stories. Send us your press releases and we’ll do our best to include them in some form, particularly through daily online updates. But more important, we want you to consider us a place for breaking news and perspective on other stories. Please send those releases and ideas to us at email@example.com. But if it’s breaking AND important, please contact me directly.
3. Subscribe. We’ll hire a new reporter soon, but the only way we can effectively cover a business community this diverse is to add more staff. I’ll need your help on that. If you have enjoyed a free subscription for an extended time and we achieve these goals, then please convert to a paid subscription. If my track record at The News Journal gives you confidence now, please consider doing that today here.
We have a lot of moving parts and a lot to do. This is going to be fun.