On the seventh day in a startup, you do not rest. It’s been one full week since I started work as editor of Peer News, what we’re calling a next generation news service in Honolulu. And as on all the days before - except my “days off,” when I drove around town looking for housing - yesterday was a mix of conversations with my new colleagues about topics we need to work through - for example, how to handle the contributions of non-staff writers - and the quiet of a blank office with a small group tapping away on Mac laptops.
What does an editor do to launch a new news service?
First, my new colleagues, Pierre Omidyar and Randy Ching, had already given a lot of thought, with their adviser Howard Weaver, to what the new service should look like. So the basic editorial direction has already been set, which gives me a huge head start. And they had adopted an approach to hiring, based on the book "Who: The A Method for Hiring,” which they used to hire me. So how to go about recruiting our staff had already been established, too. What I needed to do was focus on the basics. That meant unsexy tasks like writing job descriptions to make it possible to recruit people and have them understand what would be expected of them. I’ve also written a beat/coverage guide, again to sharpen what the service would offer and help explain it to prospective hires. All these, of course, go through rounds of editing and discussion. (We’ll be talking about our plans in more detail closer to launch.)
Moving has been a reminder of the stress that any new employee goes through. Good to remember. All the HR paperwork and questions. The crazy things that happen in a new town. Leaving the lights on in the rental car and getting stranded in a rainstorm. The difficulty of finding an apartment. New software tools to learn. Posterous. Dropbox. Skype Chat. (OK, I knew to how use it. But not properly, according to Mr. Omidyar...By the way, I thought I knew how to use e-mail, but it turns out I've been using it wrong all along. Blame it on my Blackberry.) And new user IDs and passwords to remember.
Job applications are rolling in. A gentle reminder: If you’re looking for a job, it’s a good idea to follow directions. A second reminder: Sending an online news service a resume that says your goal is to work at a metropolitan daily newspaper or something other than the job you’re applying for is probably not a good idea. Also, think about customizing your resume for each position. It makes people appear more serious if they seem to understand what we might be looking for. Generic doesn’t help somebody stand out.
One thing that’s impressed me in Hawaii is how open everybody is to meeting and talking about the work. Aloha actually means something. And for that I’m grateful.
I’m happy to be here. At the beginning. Digging in. Building.