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The Vanifesto

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Moderator1, Jan 29, 2007.

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  1. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    As requested:

    April 12, 1999

    To the sports staff of the Orlando Sentinel:

    I am looking forward to working with each of you very soon.

    Not much new has happened in sports sections over the last few years. That’s about to change right here in Orlando, and you’re going to be part of it. Together, we’re going to develop and produce the model for the sports section of the new millennium.

    Starting immediately, every decision made will be based on reaching a goal to be the best sports section in the country. Not one of the Top 10. The Best One. It is a lofty goal, and we’ve got some work to do to get there. We’ll start by raising the journalistic standards of the Orlando Sentinel sports section to a higher level. What was good enough yesterday isn’t good enough today. And what we do today won’t be good enough tomorrow.

    My first few weeks on the job will be devoted to communication and planning.

    I will meet individually with each of you. I expect you to come to the meeting prepared with 10 ideas that will make the sports section better. Those could include investigative and enterprise stories, features or series, beat coverage, graphic and photo coverage, etc. The ideas do not need to be limited to your beat or area of expertise. I have asked
    Lynn Hoppes to coordinate these half-hour meetings over the next few weeks.

    There will be weekly meetings to discuss each beat. Johnny Whitehead, Roger Simmons and Lynn will arrange these. Various writers and editors, including but not limited to the beat reporters, will be invited. Come with ideas.
    We will begin a series of long-range planning sessions with various assistant editors, layout and copy editors, reporters and columnists. Our goal will be a major enterprise project for each day, complete with artwork or photos, starting June 1. To accomplish this, we will need to plan these projects out 100 days and more in advance. All reporters and writers will be assigned at least two enterprise writing projects in addition to their daily beat work and general assignments. I have asked Joan Andrews to oversee this project.

    A new daily work schedule will be posted. Everyone will be included: editors, columnists, writers, reporters, etc. When not on assignment, Orlando-based reporters and writers will be expected to be in the office no later than 1 p.m. daily. You will be expected to do much of your writing in the office. Some reporters will be designated as general assignment. Reporters based in other towns will be assigned to be in the office at least once a week.
    A few of my ideas and policies everyone should be aware of:

    Words to live by: "Never Assume Anything."

    Words to die by: "That’s not the way we do things around here."

    Every inch of the sports section will be reevaluated. Some former features will be eliminated, making room for new coverage and ideas.

    Emphasis will be placed on breaking news. Not just Orlando stories, but national stories too. Reporters will be expected to never be beaten on a local news story. Woe to the reporter who has to cover a press conference to get news.

    The best writers I know are also the best reporters I know.

    The best reporters work the telephone daily and have personal home numbers for every player in the league they cover.

    There will be a premium on ideas that will establish the Sentinel sports section as a unique product with a "personality" all its own.

    There will be more opinion and analysis in the sports section.

    File photos will not be used for centerpiece art. Live photos and artwork will be used daily. File photos will be used for mug-shots only. This requires advance planning and coordination with the photo and art department.
    Copy and layout editors will be expected to be a daily source for stories and graphic ideas.
    Stories will be edited tighter, although not necessarily shorter. Some stories, such as game advances and results, will be shorter and more analytical.

    It sounds like a lot of extra work. It will be. You might ask, when does the "fun" that I promised start? It starts when you enter a press box and other writers are buzzing about the new Orlando sports section. It starts when other sections across the county copy the new Orlando sports section. It starts when you contact sources and they know you and your newspaper. Most important, it starts when you know you are an important part of the best sports team in the county.

    It will happen here.
    I promise.

    Van F. McKenzie
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