Mudpack review no big deal for Fort Worth editor

Q.: Did Fort Worth Star-Telegram executive editor Jim Witt take on this mudpack assignment because he laid off his beauty editor?witts

A. Nope. “If a woman wrote the column I did about GlamGlow nobody would notice,” says Witt. “I did it because the ‘fish out of water’ approach would get more attention in my opinion.”

A Romenesko reader sent me the link to Witt’s piece and wrote: “I’m not sure what motivated this. I doubt many editors of ‘major market’ dailies are doing product reviews of their spouse’s beauty products.”

I sent the reader’s note to the Star-Telegram newsroom boss and he responded:

“If you only knew half the crazy stuff I’ve done during my 16 years as editor of the Star-Telegram, you wouldn’t even ask that [what-motivated-this?] question! The staff knows that I’m not the typical newspaper editor, so as far as I know nobody even blinked. And the emails I’ve received from readers have all been positive.

“With newspaper staffs shrinking over the past few years, we encourage all our folks to be content creators when they can and to incorporate things they have a passion for or have personally experienced. Although I’ve written about serious subjects recently like Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, I’ve also written about my obsession with Elvis and made a humorous video about a new oversized golf putter I bought.”

He sends more “Startlegram” stunts:

1. When Disney bought us, I purchased 200 Mouseketeer hats and everybody had to “earn their ears” by doing a good story, photograph, page design, etc. They thought it was ridiculous — but everybody wound up displaying their hats on top of their computer monitors when they won them and if you didn’t have one then everybody knew you hadn’t done something worthy of praise yet.

2. During the OJ trial in the early ’90s, we selected our own “jury” of local people who watched the entire trial for weeks at our office on TV. But before they could render their verdict, two of the people got into a fistfight and we had to disband.
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2. We produced what we think was the first newspaper section in the U.S. in 3-D more than five years ago and passed out 250,000 glasses to our subscribers so they could enjoy.

3. We had a team-building exercise once during Easter week. Everybody had to split up in teams of two to find Easter eggs hidden all over the building. But the trick was that one member was blindfolded and their partner had to verbally tell them where to go without touching them to guide them to the eggs. The winning team got an extra week of paid vacation.

4. To pump up our unsung copy desk, we found a headline-writing game kind of like Scrabble so we had a NCAA-style playoff with brackets, etc. Then we brought in bleachers for the finals with a big cheering section and televised it complete with play-by-play commentary to all the TV sets throughout the building.

We also had the highest reader satisfaction numbers of all Knight Ridder papers during the 10 years they owned us and were selected several times as newspaper of the year or website of the year in Texas. We take what we do seriously but try to have fun too …

* Product review: GlamGlow is much more than simply mud in yer face (star-telegram.com)

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