By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
· Rethink beats.Why the hell do all the best writers and reporters end up in Austin? Bill Minutaglio, before he left to write books, and Pete Slover and Sam Attlesey and Wayne Slater--these people should be covering the most important beats of the paper: City Hall, police, the courts. Too often, these are seen as starter jobs where reporters begin, then they graduate to the Austin bureau, where they get to live in a cool city and write stories no one reads. The real stories, the ones that define a city, are found in these three places. See any column by our own Jim Schutze, and you'll know what I mean.
· Hire more good young writers...as editors. This is simple: You will never, ever, never-ever "connect" with young readers by studying focus-group reports. Young, smart people connect with other young, smart people. You can't do it. Please, dear sweet Lord in heaven, please, stop trying.
· Fire more editors. Forget this "We Are Family" stuff. Any business where managers spend their days trying not to get in trouble is a dying business. You have some good editors there. Keep them. Promote them. Give them free rein. Let them fail once in a while. Get rid of the rest. It pays off.
· Ignore trends. This means no more focus groups, but I'm sure those focus-group firms can find another living, such as sucking blood out of humans and forcing them to join their world of the undead. The whole idea, for example, that short snappy stories are the way to go is insane. It's the way to entice people to finish a story, true. It's also the way to ensure that those people will never feel an emotional attachment to your paper, which is where we started, isn't it?