My son’s alma mater, the University of Rochester, provided him an engineering degree and me a personal and professional mantra: meliora. The university’s Latin motto roughly translates to “ever better” or “the pursuit of the better.”
For a perfectionist like me, it was a radical shift in outlook. Rather than judging myself and others solely on the end result, I’ve tried to focus more on the journey, the striving, the effort to improve.
During my first year as IRE executive director, I’ve worked with our talented staff, board of directors and many of you to ensure that our beloved organization keeps evolving to meet changing needs in a rapidly shifting media landscape.
The newly redesigned IRE Journal magazine is our latest effort at meliora.
Sarah Hutchins, IRE’s editorial director, led the redesign project. During an IRE staff retreat, she showed us thumbnail images of Journal pages from previous issues. So many of the pages looked the same. Stories were roughly the same lengths and formats. The content was solid and helpful, but we all realized the magazine could be more inviting.
We’re proud of the new IRE Journal, a creative collaboration between Sarah and our new contract designer, Larry Buchanan of The New York Times. You’ll find a mix of short and long stories, eye-catching graphics, practical guides and an increased attention to data journalism. With each issue, we’re striving for surprises. And we hope you’ll make regular use of our tips and how-to guides as you strive to be ever better in your work.
Beyond the newly redesigned IRE Journal, our other meliora efforts include:
- A coding boot camp in Minneapolis last year that helped journalists learn to use Python. Based on demand, we likely will host a coding boot camp in another part of the country in 2018.
- Hiring new staff members with sophisticated technical skills and experience: Data Services Director Charles Minshew (our R expert), Training Director Cody Winchester (our Python guru) and Training Director Mark Walker (who’s leading our Total Newsroom Training program for smaller newsrooms).
- Creating a director of partnerships position and recruiting Chris Vachon to lead our efforts on fundraising, grants, sponsorships and fellowships.
- Forming a larger team to plan content for our two national conferences. Our goals include adding fresh faces, more diversity and timely topics.
We hope that our efforts help you continue your own meliora journey in pursuit of stories that make a difference.
Doug Haddix is executive director of IRE and NICAR. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 573-882-1984 or @DougHaddix on Twitter.