Let's have a meeting to discuss that

August 29, 2005|By Joel Huffer

'To meet or not to meet? That was the question.

The day was Wednesday, about two weeks ago, and Executive Editor Terry Headlee had asked a few of us in the newsroom to get together to discuss the use of photos on the front page of The Morning Herald.

As the group began to gather several minutes before the meeting, someone noticed the conference room already was being used.

"No problem," Terry said. "I'll go see if we can use the one downstairs."

A few minutes later, he returned to say that room, too, was being used for a meeting.

To which someone in our group replied, "You know there are too many meetings when there's nowhere left to meet."

The comment drew a few laughs, but it also raised a question for me.

Why are there so many meetings here at The Herald-Mail?

In the newsroom alone, there are two daily editors meetings, a weekly meeting of the Lifestyle department, a weekly reporters meeting and a weekly managers meeting.


There also are occasional meetings - like the one mentioned at the beginning of this column - that address a specific topic. Those meetings recently have looked at newsroom ethics, Under-40 readership, possible software changes and special projects, just to name a few.

Other departments - advertising, circulation and human resources - have their meetings, too. In fact, you probably could walk into The Herald-Mail office any day of the week during business hours and find a meeting in progress.

Which leads to another question: What is so important that it requires all of these meetings?

The answer is simple: Giving our readers the newspaper they want.

When The Morning Herald editors meet each day at 5 p.m., we discuss the best stories of the day from our city, county and Tri-State reporters, the Sports and Lifestyle departments, and the Associated Press. We look at the stories that affect the greatest number of people living in the area and the stories we think are of interest to the largest percentage of readers.

As you might expect, opinions about those stories are mixed, which often prompts discussion about why one story might be favored over another.

Our editors live in Clear Spring, Funkstown, Hagers-town, Williamsport, Chambersburg, Pa., Waynesboro, Pa., Martinsburg, W.Va., and Falling Waters, W.Va. With such widespread residency, we believe we are able to stay in touch with the events and issues of our Tri-State communities.

And, in the end, that's what this job is about.

As for the meeting about front-page photos? We managed to carve out some space near the back of the newsroom for our discussion.

Joel Huffer is managing editor of The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7587, or by e-mail at

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