Shifting the focus to others in 2017

If I could change one thing about myself in 2017, it’s my focus.

From day to day, I have been primarily focused on advancing my own goals as an editor and journalist. In 2017, that’s coming to an end.

I spent a week earlier this year at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies discussing the importance of building up others. The idea of developing your staff and putting the goals of your staff ahead of yourself, per the media professionals and faculty on hand, was the primary catalyst for becoming a strong newsroom leader.

At Poynter, it was apparent to me that staff development had been something that I had paid very little attention to as I focused on video, innovation and different storytelling methods. That’s all good and dandy, but it doesn’t help build cohesion and it doesn’t make people stretch. That’s what I’m interested in going forward. The fruits of that labor, I hope, will mean more dynamic projects and more personal satisfaction from everyone in my newsroom.

What will be key to fulfilling this mission is getting to understand everyone’s goals. I’ve been cheating by working on my resolutions since early December, gathering as much information as possible on the hopes and dreams of my colleagues with the explicit understanding of helping them achieve their ambitions. I can’t think of anything more important right now than helping them get to where they want to be because our goals in the industry are ultimately aligned.

So, in 2017, my focus will shift to others and by the end of the year, I hope, those closest to me in the newsroom will have advanced or realized some of their goals.

Resolutions for 2016

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Here we are getting ready to commence with 2016 and all I can think about is what a year 2015 was.

At the end of 2014, I went from a digital only outlet at Boston.com to FOX25 where I was the manager of web content. It was a bizarre experience for someone like myself who has always been tied to a newspaper. To be bound by the restrictions of the TV newsgathering process was actually an incredible learning experience. I was able to drive digital strategy and performance while gaining the perspective of a TV station’s digital road map. I was honored to help boost FOX25 during a period of transition as the new year kicked in.

I was honored to be a part of the team to accept the APME/ASNE Innovator of the Year award for the Boston Herald.
I was honored to be a part of the team to accept the APME/ASNE Innovator of the Year award for the Boston Herald.

Here I am now at the Boston Herald, serving as its new deputy managing editor for news and multimedia, a new position for the Herald and another opportunity for me to lead and strategize for the future. That’s something I don’t take lightly. There’s an incredible urgency to do well. The beauty of the Herald is that there is buy-in from the staff to tweak, change and re-direct, all with the aim of doing the best job possible. As my colleague Joe Dwinell likes to say, the great thing about the Herald is that things move fast. That’s what has taken my focus and energy for the second half of 2015.

Now, as the hours draw down for this year, I’m reflecting on what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m sizing up all the things we did well, what we did marginally well and where we failed, the last of which is most important to me and how I will judge our efforts. In that sense, I’m looking at how I’ve spent my time, our efficiency and our hopes for the future. That’s what I’m consumed by.

Jalil
Jalil

At the same time, I have had an extraordinary year with my family. My only resolution from 2015 was to spend more time with family members, which I’m proud to say I was able to accomplish after using all of my allotted vacation time. I’ve watched Jalil grow from an infant to a toddler. His hair is as wild as ever and his curiosity inspires me. I’m in love watching him grow up. Claudia is as beautiful as ever and has become a gracious mother. I can’t thank her enough for her patience as I transitioned from one job to the next. And for all of my family back in San Francisco, I was able to re-connect at my grandmother’s 90th birthday anniversary. But I know I need to do more on both fronts.

My family in San Francisco.
My family in San Francisco.

In 2016, I want to maintain the momentum I’ve enjoyed at work and at home. That will take a continued effort to create balance. But I have specific goals as well, some of which fall into the form of “traditional” resolutions:

Claudia
Claudia
  1. As I said on the last episode of NewsFeed (my show on Boston Herald Radio, for those that don’t know) this year, I want to read to Jalil every night. He’s at an age right now where he needs to hear as many words as possible. And I want to instill in him the joy that comes from reading that his mother and I share.
  2. I also want to save at least 15 percent of my salary. I’ve already got Jalil’s college fund going and the house fund is there, but I’m thinking about retirement now as well. There’s a lot I need to be prudent about to make that happen. So part of this resolution is to spend less frivolously with the hope that I’ll maintain my benchmarks for the end of the year.
  3. And I want to be better at calling my family back home. They need to hear from Jalil and I a lot more than they do. I admit to being terrible about making calls during holidays and special occasions. So part of that is setting out time each week just for phone calls.

Of course, this doesn’t take away from the fact that I want to work out more, become a better manager at work, give more of my time to service organizations, read as much as possible and improve on myself as a man. But I think those goals are good for every year. In 2016, I’m trying to start habits that will benefit my family and I for the rest of our lives. I can’t think of another way to approach resolutions right now.

I’m thankful for 2015 and look forward to what’s next. My plan is in place. What’s yours?

I’m joining the Boston Herald

I’ll be joining the Boston Herald on Monday June 8 as the deputy managing editor for news and multimedia. The announcement was in Thursday’s copy of the Herald. Here’s the text from the article:

Zuri Berry has been named as the Herald’s deputy managing editor for news and multimedia, it was announced today.

Berry comes to the paper from WFXT FOX25, where he served as manager of Web content, supervising digital staff on news projects.

Previously, he worked at the Boston Globe’s Boston.com as a content producer and writer, spearheading sports coverage.

A California State University, Chico graduate in journalism, Berry launched the social media efforts of a local daily newspaper, The Union.

“Zuri has built a career in steering news organizations through the challenges of new media platforms to extend their reach and reader engagement,” said Herald Editor-in-Chief Joe Sciacca.

“Smart, energized and committed to journalism, he has a strong appreciation for the collaboration needed to make a multimedia newsroom work,” Sciacca said.

In his newsroom leadership role, Berry will focus on expanding and enhancing the Herald’s integrated print and Web reporting initiatives, radio and video.

“I’m excited about helping the Herald strengthen its watchdog journalism through multimedia and building up its social media strategy,” said Berry, who starts in his new position on Monday.

“With strong platforms like radio to offer, it’s my hope to leverage the Herald’s brand to its maximum potential. This couldn’t be a better time to join, and I’m ready to dig in.”

Happy New Year! Resolution(s) for 2015

Happy New Year’s friends, family, and strangers on the internet. May peace and blessings find you in 2015.

I fear, much like I did at the start of 2014, that I may not be able to exceed the level of joy I experienced in the coming year. With the birth of my son, Jalil, and the new job at WFXT FOX 25 News, 2014 was a year of dramatic change for the Berrys.

And with the changes I’ve experienced, both of which have made wholesale differences in my personal and professional life, I see a greater shift in my New Year’s resolutions, which I proudly post in this space each year.

(To the pessimist, I say, endear yourselves to those that are goal-oriented and who engage in the New Year’s resolutions ritual. They are, in my view, openly optimistic about self-betterment, which characterizes strong moral fiber. Ernest Hemingway wrote: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”)

It’s not that I don’t want to continue to write for myself. (I hate the fact that I haven’t written on this site since Dec. 7, Jalil’s birthday.) Or that I don’t want to work out. I’m always striving to be more consistent – as a writer, editor, and online manager – and improve upon myself each day. That’s my obligation to the myself and those that look up to me. But I see in these changes an opportunity to focus on others. However important it may be to put focus on myself, in terms of self-betterment, Jalil’s presence demands that my priorities change, even if just slightly.

So this may sound lame or corny even, but it actually reflects how I feel: In 2015, I want to focus more on my family.

With Jalil and Claudia, the Berrys now have a whole team on the east coast. I want to make sure as much as possible our family is strong and stable. For me, that means being both a provider and a steward. This year, with this new role as a father, I see nothing as more important. So while I resolve myself to focus on my writing, my personal health, and professional development each year, this year I will add yet another important and intangible goal, one I believe will also be among my New Year’s resolutions for the rest of my life.

So, what’s your New Year’s resolutions?

Welcome Jalil

Jalil Noel Berry

I’d like to welcome my newborn son, Jalil Noel Berry, into the world. Meet Jalil.

I’m happy to report Jalil is a healthy 6 pounds and 0.1 ounces. Claudia is healthy, too, after a lengthy induced labor. I couldn’t be more pleased with both of them after we started this process on Saturday around 1 p.m. and finished more than 24 hours later.

Jalil Noel Berry
Jalil Noel Berry

What’s in the name?

Jalil is an Arabic name and it means great or revered one. Given that the name is not too popular (it’s currently not ranked by BabyNames.com), I felt that it was fitting for our first son because he will most certainly be revered in our household and hopefully his individuality will always remain strong.

Noel, which means Christmas or born on Christmas day, is an ode to the due date that Claudia and I originally received when we discovered she was pregnant. We had been working on the assumption that she would give birth close to that time and we found it fitting to have a name associated with such a special date.

So thankful

Right now, I’m feeling an intense sensation of joy and relief. I’m absolutely thrilled that we can finally get going as parents after what felt like an endless pregnancy and it’s nice to have the anxiety of an induced pregnancy behind us. There’s so much to be thankful for and happy about, I don’t know where to begin. So I’m just going to be a proud dad and shut up about it, dig into these parenting books, and get to my job as a father. I might take a few too many photos in the days ahead. But hey, that’s what comes with parenthood. And you can be sure that’s how we welcomed Jalil.

Zuri and Jalil
Zuri and Jalil.

I’m changing things around here

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Life update. I hit 30 this month. I changed jobs. All this change and more is swirling around me and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. So I figure I ought to make some changes around here, too.

I’ve been looking at this site for a couple of weeks now and I know that I need to re-think everything about what I do here because the dynamics of my personal brand of journalism have changed. I’m no longer a sports writer and that changes everything as far as how I view myself and how I should be represented online. The old habits of posting my Patriots columns and other football related items here made sense. If a reader couldn’t find my work on Boston.com, they could find it here. But that’s just not necessary anymore.

Instead, now I believe that this site will revert more to what it was when I was in Grass Valley, Calif., a laboratory for ideas and exploration. I know, it sounds lame. But it’s fun for me.

I think it really hit me that I needed to change the site when my wife made a comment about its staleness. I haven’t posted in weeks. I figure people didn’t want to read all of the local crime I’ve been writing about on MyFOXBoston.com. And I figured nobody was paying attention. (I actually have a healthy amount of passive traffic to this site. But I haven’t cultivated those random readers into regular visitors.) So I wasn’t sure it was an immediate concern.

But then another thought popped in my head, something my wife mentioned. The site looks old. The design, the WordPress Twenty Thirteen theme, was lame. And I couldn’t argue with her about it. How could I let something so generic and old come to represent me? Claudia’s comment followed another designer’s comment to me about the site in August, about my personal brand and what I was trying to project with the free theme and its abhorrent color scheme. I didn’t have an answer then, other than to say it’s something that I needed to address. Well this is a good time to address it.

I’m going to be making some dramatic changes here in terms of design and content. I don’t yet fully know where that’ll take me. But as any long-time reader of mine knows, it’ll be interesting and the moves will be full of rash decisions. (Notice I’m already onto WordPress’s Twenty Fourteen theme.) I’m sure we’ll enjoy some experimentation together. Or at least I will. That’s all that really matters.

New job alert: Leaving Boston.com for Fox 25 News

Good news. I’ve accepted a position at Fox 25 News in Boston as a senior web producer, ending my almost five-year tenure with Boston.com and the Boston Globe.

I’ll be moving out of sports and into the news department again, which is a move I’ve been looking to make for some time. I’m excited about that and I’m excited about working for a broadcast outlet, which I believe is ripe for some digital innovating.

I think a lot of people will wonder why I would give up a job that lets me cover professional sports and travel. For me, it’s about growth. I am fortunate enough to have covered a Super Bowl, two Stanley Cup Finals and an NBA Finals while with Boston.com and the Globe. Only sports journalists in Boston are that lucky. So those are memories I will never forget. But I’m also very much interested in doing stories of impact, something I don’t think I can accomplish at Boston.com.

I’m certainly thankful to the many people at Boston.com and the Globe I’ve had a chance to work with. There’s way too many to name, but I’ll give a special shout out to Matt Pepin, Joe Sullivan, and Bob Holmes, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with very closely and getting to know well. I really want to thank them for their support over the years. And the same goes for past editors at the Globe and Boston.com like David Beard and Greg Lee. I really appreciate them, too, for what they’ve done for me.

So onward I go. Soon enough, you’ll find my work on myfoxboston.com. Just five more letters to remember.

On Vacation

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I’ve got a quick stop in San Francisco and then Claudia and I will be making our way to Punta Cana to celebrate our 1-year anniversary.

While I know I’m on vacation, I figure this is as good a time as any to relay some stories and thoughts from the past year, both personal and work related. I’ll be doing that in the coming days. So, if you’re interested, stay tuned.

Change is coming

So I’ve been meaning to address a number of professional changes for me for some time. The tricky thing is you never know how much you can say and who is gonna throw a fit because you said it. (And then after awhile you just lose track of the time.)

No mas!

About two weeks ago, we had a major shakeup at Boston.com that will help the site better differentiate itself from the Boston Globe. For all of my friends and family that are wondering, yes, there is a difference between the two sites. While Boston.com has been the portal site of the Boston Globe newspaper since 1995, that relationship between the paper and the site changed significantly when the paper decided to launch BostonGlobe.com in September 2010 (it went live just a year later). When the site went live, we began the company’s two-site strategy, with one site remaining free (Boston.com) and the other subscriber based (BostonGlobe.com). Obviously that confused everyone involved because multiple pieces of content, whether they be stories, photos, or video, were on both sites.

I can’t tell you how many times I tried to explain to Claudia what the difference was between the two sites. Let’s just say she never fully understood.
Continue reading “Change is coming”

Not sure how 2014 can be better than my last year, but I will resolve to improve

To all my family, friends, and readers, Happy New Year’s.

This is one of my favorite times of year because many folks like myself bound themselves to resolutions with the hopes of bettering their lives, their bodies, their situation, or all of the above. I love that. I love the goal-oriented among us. I strive to be goal-oriented every day. That’s what drives me to get out of the bed. To win the day, so to speak.

Claudia and I celebrating the New Year. [/caption]This year is no different. I have my resolutions, which I’ve shared in this space since 2008. But when thinking about what I’m trying to accomplish, I have to stop and grade myself. How did I do in 2013? Pretty fantastic actually.

For my wedding (which was awesome), I resolved to lose 15 pounds to get under 200. I hit 196 in early July, with just enough time to spare for the nuptials July 6.

I also resolved to get a side hustle and was able to do that with some sporadic freelance assignments. Sporadic was better than nothing, which I’m thankful for.

Lastly, I resolved to be quite a bit more responsible with my cash flow. It was a wedding necessity. Thankfully, I was able to save more than enough money to deal with all of the costs associated with a ceremony thousands of miles away. And, by doing so, I was able to give a special gift back to the family with Claudia.

This year, I have a couple of specific goals I want to achieve. Here’s what I plan to knock out:

1. Get healthy again — Football season has been ruinous for my workout regimen. It’s messed up my whole sense of what to do on days off, what to attempt during work hours, and what to do on travel days. If there’s one thing I know about working out, there has to be some regularity. So my goal is to find regularity — after the football season. And when it’s over, hopefully the new workout schedule will transfer over during the fall of 2014. That’ll be my test.

2. Lose 20 pounds in three months — The clock starts Monday Feb. 4, the day after the Super Bowl. Deadline is April 28.

3. Drop some responsibilities — You ever have that feeling that you have all these things to do and absolutely nobody cares? Yeah, that’s how I feel some days. That’s when you know it’s time to re-prioritize. And there’s no better time than right now.

4. Something new

Claudia wants to go to Australia. We’ll see if it’s meant to be. I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt and she has a sister staying in Dubai right now. There’s also the matter of the World Cup in Brasil, although I’ve been there before, and South Africa seems tempting. So there are some options to consider. We’ll see.

What do you have in store for 2014? Anything new or different? Did you stick to your resolutions in 2013? Let me know.