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Chicago Tribune revamps staff performance reviews

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Jeez. As if working in the newspaper business wasn't already difficult enough for the rapidly dwindling number of souls left in the trenches, the bankrupt Chicago Tribune has gone and established a whole new set of rather over-the-top staff performance review standards that will take effect immediately. In a memo to Trib staff sent out on Jan. 19, Associate Editor Jocelyn Winnecke was kind enough to lay out the new guidelines and goals that apparently will be a factor in every staffer's performance reviews going forward.

The first item on Winnecke's list is "digital first." By that Winnecke means every Trib employee will be expected to "think and act first as a member of a digital newsroom that also publishes newspapers." Guess that tells us pretty clearly how -- and how dramatically -- the Trib's priorities have shifted. But there's more. Winnecke told the staff they will be expected to "deliver on mission," meaning each staffer's daily goals will now be local relevance, watchdog reporting, personal utility (whatever that is?), consumer guidance, visual drama and compelling storytelling.

On top of those requirements, employees also will be judged on how well they "embrace change by seeking out new and innovative ideas that serve key audiences and move the Chicago Tribune forward." Whew! Winnecke also informed staff that "urgency" now matters. By that, of course, she means "managing time effectively to achieve highest-possible efficiency." In other words, Tribsters, you better learn to do more work faster.

And last, but surely not least, Winnecke in her memo suggested that if staff hope to receive a positive performance review, they better make sure they have a good attitude because, as Winnecke put it, "positive attitude is crucial to our changing culture and all that must be accomplished for our company to be successful."

So get cracking -- with a smile -- Tribsters. That first performance review with the new guidelines is set for July.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page contains a single entry by Lewis Lazare published on January 30, 2009 2:41 PM.

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