Poynter’s plan to make work suck less

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The Poynter Institute is on a mission to make your 40 (let’s be honest, it’s way more than that) hours a week in the newsroom better.

The organization launched its first crowdfunded project, 40 Better Hours, last month and exceeded its $10,000 goal this week. The project will launch the week of Sept. 19 with new posts daily throughout that week. Ren LaForme, interactive learning producer at The Poynter Institute, is co-heading the series with Katie Hawkins-Gaar.

40 Better Hours will publish videos on-location with newsroom leaders about best practices, question and answer sessions and lessons on building healthy workplace cultures. Advice won’t just come from Poynter. LaForme and Hawkins-Gaar will sit down with experts in the field to figure out how to make work suck less. 

“With this project, we’re saying: we think if we solve some of these smaller problems that dog journalists, editors and managers all the time, we can maybe make a dent in journalism finding its feet and being the powerhouse it was even 20 years ago,” said LaForme.

He said the project was inspired by a week-long series of training the organization did last year geared to make work more fun.

“We put together a week about having more fun at work, it applied to all places, not just newsrooms,” said LaForme. “We learned that the people who need that type of training the most are the least able to pay for it and we learned there’s a lot of interest in it.”

Hence, the crowdfunding.

“We figured with a crowdfunding campaign, people who have more money or large organizations might be able to put some money forward so more people have access to it. And if you don’t have a lot of money, you can just put $5 towards it and we’ll reach our goal and no one would have to pay a lot of money,” LaForme said.

He added a lot of the failure to innovate in the industry comes from the smaller problems getting in the way– long meetings, millions of emails your inbox, social media– these are all challenges for journalists and get in the way of doing journalism.

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Whitney Helm is a freelance journalist based in Wisconsin. She formerly held positions at weekly and daily newspapers, Platte County Record-Times and Beloit Daily News, but now works in public relations at a local college.

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