Random advice: I can feel your negativity
It’s been a pretty long, yet pretty rewarding week.
In the middle of it, I had a long talk with a friend that resonated with a topic that keeps coming up.
Without sounding self-helpy: We have to get rid of all the negativity in newsrooms.
Why? It’s killing us. And not in a “death to journalism’ way, but more in a “burning everyone out” way.
In more precise terms…
It’s hard to get ahead if you’re a complainer
I can’t think of a single manager I know that says “Man, I really want to hire that sour puss over there.”
You want to hire someone who is capable, but also energizing. It’s the reason we go to conferences. You want someone who, just by working near them, you get inspired by.
I never will tout a co-worker, boss, or anyone who makes me feel worse about myself, who stabs me in the back, who plays politics more than teamwork.
I could list dozens of people who I work near that make me better at my job. I could also list dozens who are so grumpy that they make me want to go back to bed. That leads me to…
Creativity demands positive action
Even when we fail, it’s not a failure. It’s that whole failing up Silicon Valley thing.
We can’t build the best journalism ever if we all hate our lives and each other. We can if we look at what we could have done better and say, “This was good, but man, next time it’ll be awesome because instead we’ll do…”
We’ll drive ourselves, and our readers out of this business
I am not even sure why I have to explain this. Ever worked in a newsroom around layoff time? Yeah, you don’t do the best work. Or work at all, really.
It’s a shame to me that someone has to preach positive thinking. I know we’re a cantankerous, skeptical bunch, but at heart, we’re also writers, artists, creatives and people who want to tell a story.
Did print beauty get lost in the scramble for digital?
Last night, The Boy got a lovely package. It was a couple of books from the Folks at For Print Only. Each year, they do awards from print design and print them in a lovely little book.
I went to their site to check out some of the projects that didn’t make it into the book — namely magazines and journals. As I clicked through the sparse 3 pages of magazines, I realized something. Not one paper news outlet that I subscribe to is this beautiful. The magazines highlighted used words like bespoke, and low-fi, words I would not use to describe anything I have on my coffee table.
Wired is one of my favorite print subscriptions. It is pretty and well-designed. It is nothing like these. They have foil print, custom typography, paper that is heavy, things that I do not even know the word for.
Many of the amazing page designers I know have jumped into online wholeheartedly.
I’m not saying that online is responsible for the death of print design. I am obviously a huge proponent of online. But I simply cannot remember the last time I looked at a print product and said “Wow,” unless it was from the maker/artisan/Etsy community. What does that say about beauty in what we do?
I find the artisan community an interesting contrast to what has happened in journalism. I’ve been on Etsy since….ever, and many presents of mine come from there. I enjoy the curated, small shop experience. Etsy has brought back crafts that were thought lost like papercutting.
That feeling is one of the reasons I used to read Good Magazine and others. It’s a feeling that is all but lost in today’s print journalism.
Printing has gotten more expensive than ever, and online is cheap to make. A web site is nearly free whereas a piece of paper and ink costs. But Etsy is small scale. You want to own it before it is too late not to own it. I used to collect magazines for that reason. It’s why my father had a whole shelf full of National Geographic — it was something to save, something to look back at later. Why do that now when you can just archive it on a web site?
When the web first came about, it was the complement to the traditional product. Let’s archive it online, we would say. Cheap. Easy.
As web becomes predominant, what if we flipped that? Why has print not become the complement to online?
The notion of the dead newspaper might stay a notion if we change our thinking about what print can do that it has never done before.
Tell me, what’s the last beautiful piece of print journalism that you’ve seen?
(Note: This is probably the most strongly written thing I’ve said in a while and I do not confess to being a designer, just a consumer of design. I do want to be wrong about this — show me.)