Monday, March 29, 2010

A new beginning and an ancient tradition - all in one day

March 29, 2010, is a day I will remember.

It started at our Peer News offices in Honolulu, clean desks and glorious orchids awaiting the arrival of our editorial staff. It ended in Kailua, outside in a lanai, the wind blowing, as we celebrated Passover around a long seder table with new friends.

Somehow it's always amazing how a seder can feel so familiar and so fresh. The songs and words, the flavors, so similar, wherever we are. After thousands of years, we still tie ourselves to a journey to freedom, to the history of our people. Yet this year I somehow felt more connected to the original experience, in the garden, with the sound of the wind behind our words. The holiday runs deep, it lifts our spirits. Freedom. Promise.

Earlier in the day, another journey began. It seemed fitting that it would start on a day that I see as the journalists' holiday. The question we ask on Passover - Why is this night different from all the rest - a building block of good storytelling.

On this day, in Honolulu, we asked our new team to come together and to question the assumptions that had driven their craft until now. How could I not be excited being on the edge of so much promise? We learned of what we had in common, and we talked of what we would try to do together. We spoke of mission and purpose, of business and customers, of being part of something together. Of the actual work we would do and what was expected of all of us. Of how we saw stories and how far we could push the range of our voices. We ate together, and even sang Happy Birthday to one of our new colleagues. And we got lost - our heads spinning - as we played with our new computers. We agreed that our internal culture had to be consistent with the public culture we hoped to create with our new news service. We agreed that we needed to be able to disagree without being disagreeable, that we could be civil even as we debated issues for which there are no easy answers.

I am thankful to be able to be here in Honolulu at the start of something new. And on the same day I am grateful to be part of something old. At Peer News, this year, we are taking something with tradition - journalism - and trying to make it new. On Passover, every year, we take something old and make it new, make it our own.

There are lessons in both experiences.

135 comments:

  1. Nice talk from a nice occasion, John.

    I'm interested in what you may be trying to do, reading between the lines.

    I'm not a journalist; my father was a fine one.

    I have other reasons to be interested, as what you propose has to do with how we learn in the world.

    That seems a key now.

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  2. Great post. I can taste the freshness. Can't wait to hear about the expansion of Peer News!

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  3. I sure hope you folks cover neighbor island news and community events at some point of this operation.

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    I wonder how long this takes to get to the local media or if the local media would even take on such a thing?

    I'm not gonna say too much at this point as I'm always interested to see how local media covers things at times.

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