A New Leap

I’m sitting right now at my kitchen table, in the quiet of my apartment, alone with my laptop. The same way I started Homicide Watch. It’s a different computer, a different apartment, but the kitchen table is the same. I’m the same– and different– too.

I remember those first words typed, those first sketches, the excitement and fear of what they meant. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew it was something. And I knew it could be big.

I said I was alone. I wasn’t. With me were the reporters I’d worked with. All of my editors. All of those I’d read and admired. My sources were there, all the people I’d interviewed. And my community, too, always guiding my next step, always my sounding board, always my north star.

Since that launch, in September of 2010, my table has grown blessedly more crowded with friends and mentors. Ann Marie Lipinski. John Davidow. Elizabeth Osder. Jane McDonnell. Jim Brady. Stefanie Friedhoff. Steve Buttry. Betsy O’Donovan. Walter Robinson. Jeff Howe. Ethan Zuckerman. Rosental Alves. Barbara Mahany. And so, so many others.

I carry them with me into the Boston Globe where I will soon be editor of multimedia and data projects.

Yes, I’ve buried the lede here.

The position at the Globe is an exciting opportunity for me. I will get to guide deep, data-driven and investigative coverage. To build journalism that truly engages local communities. To work with people (Katie Cloutier, Andrew Ba Tran, Andy Rosen and Evan Horowitz, specifically) that I respect and admire.

The Globe is a newsroom that believes, as I do, in answering community needs with quality, well-designed journalism. (Did you see this? And this? And this?)

The projects and work I will guide will be measured by three simple audience questions: What does this story tell me that I didn’t already know? What is my part in this story? What can I do with this information?

These questions are the yardstick by which I measure the quality and impact of local storytelling.

In short, I am thrilled and excited and ready to get to work.

Among the benefits of the job is that it ties Chris and me to Boston. The Nieman-Berkman fellowship gave us the opportunity to try Boston out, and we decided we liked it and that we would be interested in staying here. In Boston we have found an incredibly open and collaborative community of journalists and innovators. They crowd around our kitchen table. In person and through their influence. For this I am grateful.

But the Globe also means changes for us. I won’t be available day-to-day for edits, or to run payroll, or answer email from readers for Homicide Watch DC. For now, Chris will be taking on my day-to-day responsibilities. I will though remain available as needed for our reporters’ mentorship needs and for our partners’ editorial support.

Chris has always been core to Homicide Watch. And though you may have heard less from him about it than from me, it would not exist without him. For us, this change doesn’t feel so much like a handoff as it does an extension of our partnership. But this isn’t a long-term plan.

The reality is this: Chris and I know that we are no longer the right people to shepherd HWDC. It is a local news site and the DC community deserves for it to be run by people who live there. In short, it needs a DC home in order to continue to exist and thrive.

We are hopeful that this will happen by the end of the year (we have conversations underway with two possible partners) and we look forward to helping that transition and following the continued good work of Homicide Watch in DC. We will keep everyone posted because we know that so many of our friends and colleagues, not to mention the DC community, is invested in the continued work of HWDC. That support is something I value and cherish. Every day.

It’s not insignificant that I’m sharing this news on JournoJazz. Entrepreneurship and journalism both remain deeply improvisational for me. But in both I seek swing time. I practice. I find balance. Jazz also teaches me that when the swing is right, it’s time to take risks. To improvise. To challenge ourselves and change how we describe the world.

This, above all, is what I look forward to doing at the Globe.

Brian McGrory, David Skok, Jason Tuohey- thank you.

Radio Open Source on Vijay Iyer’s Modern Jazz

From Radio Open Source:

Where is jazz headed in a new century? With the pianist Vijay Iyer as guide, newly tenured as a professor at Harvard, it tends toward the experimental, with drummers, young musicians and slam poets. If it doesn’t always swing, it’s surprising and takes you in new directions. Will jazz be forgotten or just re-shaped by new, emerging artists like Vijay Iyer?

Here’s a short sample of the show. Vijay Iyer brings you inside the head of a jazz improviser and describes the expressive give and take conversation musicians are having with each other. Click on the black bar at the top of the page to listen to the whole show.

Act-Learn-Build vs. Make-Help-Let-Keep

In recent articles for Harvard Business Review, Len Schlesinger and Charlie Kiefer have outlined two different models for understanding and creating innovation in intrapreneurship.

About the first, called Act-Learn-Build, Schlesinger and Kiefer write:

Form the habit of acting your way into the future with low-cost, low-risk steps using the means you and your network have readily at hand. Over-planning and over-thinking are not nearly as effective. External entrepreneurs are often supported by the discipline of staged venture capital for this work. Entrepreneurs inside instead use their emergent networks to explore their learning and build support for what comes next.

The steps of this framework are to define your desire, figure out what you can invest in the next step, build the people you need into a team, take action and evaluate.

About the second framework, “Make-Help-Let-Keep,” Schlesinger and Kiefer write:

You, your boss, and your organization can each be in one of four modes: Make It Happen (Make), Help It Happen (Help), Let It Happen (Let) or Keep It from Happening (Keep). If you personally are not in the Make mode, you should stop selling your idea now. But assuming that you are… do your own diagnosis of your boss and your organization and an appropriate action strategy will become obvious.

Returning to Jazz

I’ve been coming back to jazz again lately, mostly as I consider new projects and pathways, but also as a project I’ve spent much of the past ten months working on begins to wrap up.

I’m not listening to anything specific, mostly whatever Spotify selects, but returning to the principals– and beauty– of jazz is both centering and inspiring. Both of which I need as I take on new challenges.

It’s hard, to take on new challenges. I’ve learned that lesson over and over again. With luck, I’ll keep on learning it.

And so I turn back to Marsalis, who, in To a Young Jazz Musician, writes:

I spent time thinking about what we should talk about in this first letter, and I came to the notion of humility. You consider yourself humble? Ever really think about it? Let me tell you, humility is the doorway to truth and clarity of objectives as a jazz musician; it’s the doorway to learning. Check it out.

When you start playing, you’ve got to have objectives: What are you playing? Why are you playing it? How do you want it to sound, and how will you achieve that sound? When you have those things clear in your mind, it’s much easier to teach yourself, and ultimately, that’s what you have to do. No one will ever teach you how to play.

I’ve neglected this blog this year, and so I’ll spend some time catching up. I have lessons to share from my work the past year, new mentors and friends who have shared their own ideas and time so generously with me. And because I’ll be starting a new routine soon, I’ll be posting Songs of the Day regularly. Because some days, we all need a little swing.