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Larry Lough

Here’s how we’re doing, resolution-wise

Where does the time go when you’re on a deadline to deliver?

In the editor’s column of this past Dec. 28, several of our news staff members publicly made New Year’s resolutions related to their jobs.

Even if you don’t remember your resolutions for 2014, this editor remembers those of his staff.

So he asked for an update – with a little more than 4 months to make good on their promises.

Here’s where we are:

DAVID GIULIANI has left his job as news editor to run the company’s office in Grayslake, but we didn’t let him off the hook just because of that!

“I resolved to look in unusual places for stories,” he recalled. “These days, I’m searching high and low for stories in Lake County, a suburban environment largely foreign to a guy used to small towns. I kept my promise, but moved to another paper to do it. I still miss working for Sauk Valley Media.”

JEFF ROGERS, our managing editor, figured he’s batting a cool .667.

“I have the Meat Loaf song ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’ going through my head,” he wrote. “And that’s bad. First, because it’s a Meat Loaf song. Second, it means that one of my goals for the year still is unmet.

“A blog about lists? Check. ‘The List’ debuted on on Jan. 27. Admittedly, it has run hot and cold since. Twice in the past few weeks we’ve solicited reader responses on Facebook to compile lists about sweet corn and pet peeves about drivers. We’ll likely do more of that.

“A plan to be more active and consistent online, on Facebook and on Twitter? Check. Sort of. Very early in the year we talked out a plan that has never been put in writing but did quickly become a practice. But our diligence has waned a bit in recent weeks. This exercise, and conversations already had with other staffers, will spur a renewal of that effort.

“As for having our daily news coverage focus more on issues and trends than on meetings? I can’t say that has happened with any consistency. We probably have covered fewer meetings. But we’re still not reporting as often on trends and issues as I’d like. We’ve had a fair amount of turnover this year in the editing and reporting staffs. But that’s no excuse. We’ll keep working to get better.”

NIGHT NEWS EDITOR Christopher Heimerman figures he’s making good progress in his new position.

“If I had to give myself a grade a month ago, it wouldn’t have been a great one; C-plus, perhaps,” he admitted. “Only over the past several weeks have I figured out some procedural ways to assure (more) consistent accuracy and fewer oversights by the night desk.

“I can’t stop myself from interjecting creativity. Just not how I’m wired. But I’m learning that my job as a copy chief is paramount, and am learning to pick my spots when it’s appropriate to be creative and clever.”

LUCAS PAULEY works alongside Heimerman on the night desk, in addition to being captain of the entertainment package on our Plan!t Sauk Valley pages in Thursday’s edition.

“I think that I have helped make Plan!t a better section in the last year,” he wrote. “There have been bumps in the road. I would still love to highlight local musicians and artists more. I’m committed to trying new things and making the section better every week.

“With the help of my supervisor, Christopher Heimerman, I think I have become a better editor of copy while designing pages. There’s always room for improvement in that area, and I look forward to getting better and learning more.”

JIM DUNN, the Opinion page editor, wants readers to get to know ... well, other readers.

“What I have planned is a question-and-answer feature titled ‘Behind The Reader’s Voice,’” he wrote. “From a list of frequent letter writers, I’ll select people, contact them, and see whether they wish to participate.

“Those who do will be sent a questionnaire to fill out. We’ll also take their photo. Who are those people behind the letter-to-the-editor bylines? This feature, which will be launched by September, will provide the answers.”

CINDY DAHL, an editorial assistant who works with Dunn, has come to know many readers as penpals.

“Several letter writers include ‘little notes’ to me with their submission,” she said. “The personal touch is appreciated but I will, however, continue to contact you for verification. This gives you the assurance your letter submission has arrived at SVM, and will be processed as soon as possible.”

MATT MENCARINI, our Dixon reporter, had planned to crack computer code.

“While I’ve made progress on learning to code by using the website, I don’t think I’ll meet my goal by the end of the year,” he reported. “But starting has given me the push to research and learn more about tools and skills that I can use for this job. It’s been a reminder to me that there are always new ways to tell and find stories.”

CHRISTI WARREN. reporter on the courts and cops beat, hopes she’s getting better in relating to readers.

“At the start of the year, I resolved to work hard to make stories relatable to readers, and I’ve tried to do that,“ she wrote, “but I know I haven’t been trying as hard as I should. Sometimes, as the cops and courts reporter, I can get lost in the legalese and ‘cop talk.’ But I’ll keep working at it, I promise.”

ANGEL SIERRA, our digital dude, is finding he also can reach readers through old-fashioned reporting.

“I’ve picked up a new storytelling tool – a pen,” he reports. “While video has been my strength, I’ve discovered that writing is another way I can bring readers closer to the community. From an Illinois Special Olympics volunteer in Dixon, to fantasy author Terry Brooks in the Pacific Northwest, and even a local biker ministry, I’ve shared more than a dozen of your stories so far, and I’m looking for more.”

COMMUNITY EDITOR Andrea Mills is working to ensure absolute accuracy with the thousands of names and faces that populate our Community section each weekend.

“Emailing proofs continues to be successful, with more people being able to avoid an errand to one of Sauk Valley Media’s offices,” she reported. “The next step is to establish a reminder system for proofs we do not get a response on. Error free pages in Celebrations and SV Weekend’s community section remain a goal. We have occasional corrections, but they’re not a common occurrence. Diligence continues.”

PHIL HARTMAN, a part of the Community crew, looks to be better in preparing volumes of content.

“I’ll continue to work on accuracy and speed, with an eye toward better balance of both,” he wrote. “Haste makes waste, while moving too slowly holds up others’ productivity, and I want to improve my skills in accuracy and speed.”

ANOTHER COMMUNITY staffer, Mary Near, had committed to improve accuracy.
Her update: “I can’t figure out what to say.”

’Nuff said.