Autumn Phillips/From the Editor " Change is hard … for you and for us
May 15, 2008
I was having flashbacks.
I looked around the table at a row of other editors from our newspaper company and was surprised how calm they seemed.
As for me, I was feeling nauseous. I was starting to pick nervously at my cuticles and I know I wasn’t blinking.
It was Tuesday morning and I’d just driven over a snowing Berthoud Pass all the way to green and rainy Gypsum to discuss, among other things, the launch of a company-wide, Web site redesign for all our newspapers.
While everyone else in the room was excited, I was exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
I moved to Grand County on Aug. 5, the night before I started by job as the editor of this newspaper.
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Aug. 5. That’s nine months, give or take a week.
That’s long enough to find a comfortable place to live and to have found a quiet place by a river where I know I can go to get away from it all. It’s long enough for servers to know my name and ask if I want “the usual.” It’s long enough to have enjoyed a winter on the slopes and long enough, in the weeks since the ski area closed, to have asked a hundred times, “Are the winters always this long and cold and cloudy? Will I ever see the ground again?”
But most importantly, it’s long enough to make some close friends, to have gotten to know this community on a deeper level and to have settled into my role as your newspaper’s editor.
I am ” dare I say? ” happy.
Or I was until Tuesday morning.
We launched the Sky-Hi Daily News on Oct. 15 ” seven months ago.
When measured in numbers of stories, pages, photos and letters to the editor, seven months is a long time.
But it is not so long ago that I can’t remember the difficult transition. I remember the hours of work that went into it and the hours of angry phone calls and e-mails that followed.
I remember driving home one night in October and finally letting myself cry.
I wondered what I had gotten myself into and if I would last.
I learned a lot about people in those months ” mostly about how people deal with change. And I learned about myself. In so many ways, I am a stronger but more compassionate leader than I was when I arrived here.
And, in retrospect, it was all worth it.
It took a few months, but the newspaper is hitting its stride and the feedback I receive on the street is overwhelmingly positive these days.
And our newspaper’s Web site is also on a roll.
Every morning, I get a report of our Web traffic from the day before. It isn’t very specific (I don’t know who visited, for example), but I see how many people visited and how long they stayed on average and which stories caught the most attention.
To give you an example, when we first launched our new Web site on Oct. 15, we were getting an average of 400 visitors a day. Today, my report showed 1,045 visitors came to the site yesterday.
And now that it’s doing well, we’re going to change it. And that’s why my excitement is tinged with nervousness. (Observe how I deal with change.)
The new site will have all the same content with a more organized look. And there will be more opportunities for you to interact with the newspaper.
There will be places to post your own photos and articles about everything from last night’s football game to that morning’s powder day.
There will be a section of the Web site modeled after MySpace or Facebook, where you can set up a profile, post photos, write a blog and otherwise socialize with people from Grand County who share your interests.
In a thousand ways, the new Web site will be easier to use than the site we have now.
The new Web site is scheduled to “go live” sometime in June. We’ll run ads and I’ll comment on the progress in this column, so you know what to expect and when.
E-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19600 or stop by my office at 424 E. Agate Ave. in Granby.
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