AJR  Unknown
From AJR,   July/August 2000

Campbell's Take   

AJR asked former St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor Cole Campbell to assess his three-and-a-half-year tenure at the paper:

By Unknown

Related reading:
   » The End of the Line

"I WORKED ON A FIVE-YEAR pace, nothing formal, but with a sense it would take five years to fundamentally improve the paper. Given that time frame, I worked hard to cultivate leadership from within the paper, to give people plenty of time to work through issues (the senior editors debated how to shape and implement the newsroom reorganization for three months, the whole newsroom for another three), etc.
"Knowing what I know now, I might have used a three-year timetable, moved much more aggressively on leadership and set time limits on discussion and debate. The disconnection between where the senior editors were taking the paper and some of the front-line reporting team leaders was a problem. Most front-line photo, design and desk team leaders, and some reporting team leaders, were much more connected, and it showed in the way they worked. "Here's the way the improvements shook out, year by year:
"Year One: Leadership improvements (reducing the number of people who reported to the managing editor from around 15 to around 7, by taking some work--electronics, administrative, staff development--off his platter and naming some assistant managing editors.) Implementing changes under way before I arrived (Saturday tab, entertainment section....) Leveraging the Washington bureau, editorial page, big-splash opportunities to make a visible difference to readers.
"Year Two: Leadership improvements (training senior editors, involving them in long-range thinking about how to strengthen the newspaper). Redesigning the paper to make it newsier and easier to read. Strengthening photography. Seeing how citizens connect to public affairs. Diversity awareness training.
"Year Three: Leadership changes (related to reorganization). Reorganization planning and implementation. Strengthening zoning. Sunday improvements. Readership research. Diversity awareness training.
"Year Four: Leadership improvements (focus on front-line supervisors and team leaders). Bringing reorganization to maturity and stability. Integrating readership research and learning about citizens and public affairs into daily journalism and section-by-section improvements, beginning with elections coverage and the business section and returning to zoning. Diversity training linked to a reporting project on race.
"I waited three years to tackle the broad problems of race in metropolitan St. Louis, to give the newsroom time to develop the capacity to take on the subject in a deep and meaningful way."