Meet the first members of our newly established ideaLab.
For the next 12 months these colleagues will be charged with experimenting with the latest technology and tools to help our Company think differently about what we do and how we do it. To do that, we are equipping them with the latest tools – iPhones, iPads and Netbooks (or they can substitute that list with Droids or other non-Apple products).
We are also providing them with 10 hours of paid free time per week to experiment and because we know they will do many more hours than that we are also providing a $500 per month stipend.
There are no rules but one and that is to report back at least monthly to myself and Jon Cooper, our VP Content, on ideas and developments they believe would benefit our Company, employees and the communities we serve. We are encouraging them to crowdsource both their inquiries and ideas with our employees and communities on a real-time basis.
Members of the ideaLab will post that interaction on our Ben Franklin Project site. We will launch this week an ideaLab section on the Ben Franklin site as our online meeting place.
No Sacred Cows
I guess, when I think of it, there are really two rules. The second one is: There are no sacred cows.
The members of the ideaLab and indeed all employees are encouraged to think about every aspect of our business and given the freedom to explore how we might change for the better.
Our lucky first 15 members are posted below. They are from all over our Company and work in areas as diverse as editorial, sales, circulation and production. Their emails are also listed below and I encourage our employees and the public to reach out to them directly.
It was very tough having to choose only 15 from the hundreds of folks who put up their hand. To those not chosen I ask them to keep their enthusiasm and to understand this only a first step. Hopefully, in the near future, we will have a Company that is one big ideaLab. That is one of my goals.
And while it was difficult to choose only 15, I could not let this first group launch without including some honorary members.They are: Karl Sickafus (Daily Local, West Chester PA); Viktoria Sundqvist (Middletown Press, Middletown CT) and LeeAnn Moran (The News-Herald, Willoughby, OH). All three have shown immense creativity and a dedication to implementing our Digital First and Print Last approach. Currently their jobs don’t allow for us to carve out 25% free time. So, as honorary members, we are equipping them with the same tools and offering up a $500 monthly stipend to encourage them to continue to innovate and inspire.
So, enough talk. Let’s get going. Good luck to all.
The ideaLab Team
Angela Carter: Aside from her day-to-day coverage of greater New Haven’s business community for The Register (www.NewHavenRegister.com), Angi has launched her Fi$callyFit blog to focus on financial issues directly impacting the lives and wallets of the readers of The Register (www.NewHavenRegister). She has leveraged her extensive contacts to help grow her following through a number of live chats as well.
Ivan Lajara: As the Life Editor at The Daily Freeman (www.DailyFreeman.com) Ivan blogs, recently led an editorial system install and plans to use these tools to “open a two-way street for tips and concerns and allowed our readers to tell us what are the uncovered stories that are on their minds. And follow up.”
Tim Ingle: An advertising account executive at The News-Herald (www.News-Herald.com), Tim played a large role in the first Ben Franklin Project, helping develop the “Ben Franklin in a Box” model. Tim also helped lead training for others during the second Ben Franklin Project.
Kelly Metz: The Morning Journal’s (www.MorningJournal.com) courts reporter, Kelly is also one half of the blogging duo behind News: From the field (the tale of two rookies starting out in the new age of journalism).
John Lazzeri: As Circulation Director at The Oakland Press (www.TheOaklandPress.com), John has been utilizing social media to promote – as he put it during his application to the Idea Lab – “the value of our print edition, drive sales, and improve retention.” John also launched Delivering This, a circulation blog aimed at sharing ideas for improving growth in sales and audience by sharing what works with others.
Kaitlyn Yeager: Kaitlyn, a reporter with The Register Citizen (www.RegisterCitizen.com), has a plan of creating a mobile journalist who can create content for multiple platforms all while staying connected with the audience and her editors. Her work on various crowdsourced stories as part of the Ben Franklin Project showcased her attention to our audience.
Dennis Kaffenberger: As a programmer working in our Michigan-based Shared Services division, Dennis – who helped develop a free classified ordering system as part of the Ben Franklin Project – plans on working toward applications for this technology that would benefit our audience (e-edition displays), circulation (turn-by-turn voice direction for delivery), and advertising (mark up changes to a client’s ad during a sales consultation).
Marissa Raymo: Aside from her daily duties in advertising sales at The Oakland Press (www.TheOaklandPress), Marissa also writes Horse Sense, an equestrian blog serving Oakland County. In her application for the Idea Lab Marissa focused on two growth areas for Journal Register Company and for our customers – mobile and SEO.
Michelle Rogers: Michelle, editor of The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader, part of the Heritage Newspapers group, is the only member of the Idea Lab who did not nominate herself. Michelle was selected based on her daily efforts at her community weeklies where she is constantly focused on growing her audience and has done so by recruiting community contributors and hosting local blogging seminars.
Tom Caprood: The digital specialist of The Record (www.TroyRecord.com) in Troy, NY, Tom works with the staff to coordinate the newsrooms video and social media efforts – something showcased during The Record’s coverage of a robber on campus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute earlier this year. Tom’s aim of developing a digital workflow where reporters spend time in the field and not in the office is part of his goal for the ideaLab.
Karen Workman: As a reporter for The Oakland Press (www.TheOaklandPress.com) Along with her video capabilities and her blogging efforts on her dog blog The Dog Blog, Karen also has a collaborative spirit of how to utilize the tools from the Idea Lab. She plans on sharing what she has and what she knows with her co-workers – just as she has done by helping train others on staff in video.
Chris Stanley: As the online editor at The Reporter (www.TheReporterOnline.com), Chris has been one of Journal Register’s leading producers of video and digital content. He has also worked to extend The Reporter’s offerings to include a local blog network, community organization pages and sports schedules – all areas the company can replicate and extend to other sites.
Chris March: Since transferring from The Mercury (www.PottsMerc.com) to The Register (www.NewHavenRegister.com), Chris has brought his experience in promotions and audience development to New Haven’s digital department. Chris’ application to the Idea Lab received support from his co-workers at both The Mercury and The Register.
Ben Doody: Ben, the Assistant Sports Editor at The Trentonian (www.Trentonian.com), has long been using free digital tools on his beat for the Trenton-based tabloid. His The Full Court Press blog – which he launched in 2007 – chronicles Rutgers football and MAAC basketball and his Ben Franklin Project story focused on the effort to bring baseball back to the youth of Trenton
Anthony SanFilippo A Philly native and sports staffer at The Daily Times (www.DelcoTimes.com), Anthony has developed a loyal following with his coverage of the Philadelphia Flyers. Anthony’s In The Room blog and his extensive video coverage of the team have increased that following because, as he puts it, he’s “just (the fans) humble representative with access” to the players.
Karl Sickafus: The Daily Local’s (www.DailyLocal.com) Karl Sickafus showed during the second Ben Franklin Project that he is ready to experiment and develop solutions. Those who know him know that there is no shortage of ideas – maybe only time – with Karl. He helped lead training during the Ben Franklin Project and has mapped out a free, open-source ad/edit tracking system.
LeeAnn Moran: During the first Ben Franklin Project The News-Herald’s (www.News-Herald.com) composing manager led the experimentation with Scribus that allowed the newsrooms that followed to produce their BFP newspapers. She also led company-wide training during these projects.
Viktoria Sundquvist: Since being promoted from The Register Citizen (www.RegisterCitizen.com) to the top editorial post at The Middletown Press (www.MiddletownPress.com) Vik has developed a digital first strategy to transform her small, community-focused newsroom.
Until next time, John.