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Friday, September 24, 2010

The New and Improved (?) Daily Item of Lynn

Today, I stepped foot in to the Lynn Item building for the first time in my life. I had no idea what was in store for me. On the main floor there were all women, working at desks, one behind the other. The papers from the past few weeks were all stacked into boxes on the right wall. The walls were covered in wood pannelling like it was someone's full time job to make sure every square inch of wall had plastic wood attached to it.  I tell the woman at the reception desk that I am here for my appointment with Brad Spiegel. "Is he expecting you", she asks. "Yes", I reply. She gets on the phone and almost immediately I hear footsteps coming down from the second floor.

Around the corner comes a hip, 30 something (I think... I didn't ask), brand spanking new managing editor. It was like I was instantly taken to the future, or the present I guess. It was like that feeling of stepping out into the fresh air after being in a smoke filled room with all the windows shut. I was relieved at the visual and excited for the conversation that was about to occur.

We went up to the second floor via elevator... complete with an elevator operator. I forgot to get his name. It was definitely charming, but furthered the impression that you were in a building that was stuck in time.

We got off on the second floor where there was another sea of desks. This time all occupied by men. It was the news room. Whoever did the wood panneling decor did a very thorough job on floor 2 as well. I met Thor Jourgenson (I gave him a few tidbits on the Adult Entertainment Ordinance... couldn't help myself) and Sean Leonard (who briefly talked about expanding the editorial pages to include more local content possibilities). Sean gets the quote of the day. "Welcome. It's like a Norman Rockwell painting in here, isn't it." I laughed.

On the second floor, the Item building crosses over into another building. It's literally going from 1877 to 1975. It's completely white. Like... One Flew Over the Kuckoos Nest kind of white (that wasn't a slam... just trying to paint a picture here). We had a conversation with someone in the sales department about the difference in the two spaces and went back to 1877 to have our meeting in Brad's office.

He left the door open, which was very fortunate as I got to see some news work in action. I could even break something right now, if I wanted to, but I won't.  The gentleman who did come in was only a week into the job and he had quite the big story on his hands. One week reporter talking to a two month on the job editor. I love it! This is new blood. This is exactly what the Item needed.

The fact that Brad Spiegel is out at community events, eats at Turbine and The Blue Ox, and accepts meetings with whiny bloggers like me is the icing on the cake. This guy wants to be and is being a part of this...

We talked about my history with the paper and my run in with Phil. I'm hoping my prospects for one day advertising in the Daily Item are getting a bit better.  We moved on to talk about recent headlines and the debate between whether the paper should be on the same page as us in terms of being positive and constructive in its reporting as we build up downtown and Lynn as a whole. I urged him to seek the truth behind the newspaper selling headlines. The Blue Line headline today was on his desk so I pointed it out and told him that happened over a year ago. Why is there a headline today that basically says "The nail is in the coffin" just because someone said it again? Not the point of my visit though, so we moved off of that. Went on to talk about the many blogs in the area and how we have some great photography, restaurant reviews, editorial content, etc. He agrees that there should be something we can all do together that will benefit both the paper and the Lynn bloggers. He agreed to a roundable discussion with the top bloggers in Lynn. I shared with him some of the work my friends at outside.in are doing with Hyperlocal content exposure on cnn.com.

This is a huge step forward with the Item.  I've never viewed us as competition. I never once claimed to be a journalist and never will.

Once we start getting going I think we should art bomb the interior of the Item building. I wonder what's behind that paneling? Maybe we should do a Mad Men style cocktail party for Arts After Hours in the newsroom. We can get Phil drunk and start buying ads from the sales department.

I'm looking forward to more hires like Brad Spiegel over on Exchange Street. Phil, if you hired Brad, nice work! See, I do notice when you do good things for the community.

-Corey

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