7.1 Case Study: A Clean Slate
Nick Gibbons was described by his classmates at Columbia University’s prestigious School of Journalism as a “hard-core newshound with ink running in his blood.” After working as a beat reporter for 10 years, Nick became city editor of a newspaper in a 206 midsized Midwest town of about 100,000, overseeing a large staff of local reporters and writers. So when the president of the large media group that owned his newspaper asked Nick to come to its headquarters for a meeting, he was excited. Until he heard what was said. The company was going to stop printing daily newspapers, instead publishing digital editions. Nick’s newspaper would only be printed three days a week; the other days the news would be delivered in an electronic edition. As a result, 75% of the newspaper’s workforce would lose their jobs. As the president witnessed Nick’s shock and dismay, he said, “Nick, we think you are the only editor at your newspaper that can make this happen.” On the three-hour drive home, Nick realized that change at the newspaper was inevitable. Newspapers had been losing subscribers and revenue for a decade as readers turned to the Internet to get their news. Digital versions of newspapers were cheaper to produce and deliver. Although he did not like the idea of going digital, Nick knew in his heart that he still believed strongly in the importance of reporting the news and informing the community, no matter the format. To succeed in taking the newspaper to a digital format, Nick was going to have to change an entrenched culture and belief system about newspapers, not only within his staff but among the public as well. To do this, he had to start from the ground up, creating something entirely new. This would require bringing aboard people who were energized about the future and not mourning the past. His plan employed a three-prong approach. First, he informed the entire newspaper staff that they would lose their current jobs in three months and they would have to reapply for new jobs within the newspaper. The first required qualification was a willingness to “forge the future for local journalism and make a contribution to this movement.” If you can’t let go of the past, he told his coworkers, then you can’t move forward. In the end, almost 80% of the new positions were filled by former staffers whom Nick believed to be the “best and brightest” people the newspaper had. Second, Nick moved the company’s offices out of the building it had been in for 120 years to a smaller, very public space on the first floor of a downtown building. The offices were located on a corner completely sided by windows, the inner workings of the newspaper on display to passersby. Nick wanted the newspaper’s operations to be very visible so that it didn’t seem like it had just “disappeared.” Nick’s third approach was what he called a “high forgiveness factor.”
What they were creating was new and untried, and he knew there would be plenty of missteps along the way. He stressed to his new staffers that he didn’t expect perfection, just dedication and determination. For example, one of those missteps was the elimination of the newspaper’s exhaustive list of local events, which resulted in a huge community outcry. To correct this, staffers determined they could satisfy the community’s frustrations by creating a dedicated website for a local events calendar with event organizers submitting the information electronically. A staff member would oversee college interns in editing the submissions and updating the website. When the newspaper announced its change to a digital format, the reaction was harsh: Readers canceled subscriptions, and advertisers dropped away like flies. It’s been four years since the change, and the newspaper is slowly gaining back readers and experiencing more visits to its website. The sales staff is starting to be successful teaching advertisers how to create digital ads that can reach the right audiences by using behavioral targeting and social media.
Create a presentation that describes the case, connects to appropriate theory, lists the relevant data, interprets the relevant data, discusses possible alternatives, and proposes a course of action. Approximate length is seven to ten (7-10) slides. Be sure to integrate a faith component along with using supporting materials from the texts.
The following directives should be used to organize your thoughts about a case. As you perform your analysis remain open to the fact that your interpretation of the facts may change and therefore you should constantly revisit your answers. After all the below directives have been addressed, take the information and put it into a slide presentation (always use the attatched template) that will end up being the deliverable for this project.
1. Define the Problem
Describe the type of case and what problem(s) or issue(s) should be the focus for your analysis.
2, List any outside concepts that can be applied
Write down any principles, frameworks or theories that can be applied to this case.
3. List relevant qualitative data
Find evidence related to or based on the quality or character of something.
4. List relevant quantitative data
Find evidence related to or based on the amount or number of something.
5. Describe the results of your analysis
What evidence have you accumulated that supports one interpretation over another?
6. Describe alternative actions
List and prioritize possible recommendations or actions that come out of your analysis.
7. Describe your preferred action plan
Write a clear statement of what you would recommend including short, medium and long-term steps to be carried out.
Answer each of the questions related to the Case Study, each on a single slide. Begin each of your answers with a declarative statement that encompasses each specific question. Each answer should be one paragraph that answers the question as comprehensively as possible on a single, dedicated slide.
9. Self-Evaluation Questionnaire Results
Evaluate your relevant self-evaluation questionnaire results in relation to the Case Study. What do the results suggest about you and how would you apply those results to this Case Study or another unique leadership situation?
10. Faith Integration
Reflect and reply upon the faith message from this week’s announcement. Is there a Case Study application? If so, discuss that application, and if not, discuss how you might apply the important component/s of the message to another real-life scenario.
1. What is Nick Gibbons’s vision in this case study? How is it similar to or different from the vision of the owners of the paper? Discuss the unique challenges a leader faces when required to implement a vision of his or her superiors.
2. Why do you think Nick wanted to open the workings of the paper up to the public? How is this related to his vision?
3. Visions usually require changing people’s values. What desired changes in values are highlighted by this case study?
4. How well did Nick Gibbons articulate his vision for the paper? If you were in Nick’s shoes, how would you articulate your vision in this case?
5. Do you think the newspaper will thrive under Nick’s leadership? Why?