Editor’s note: I wrote this Facebook note to introduce my new Facebook page, facebook.com/zuriberryBHR, and my new radio show on Boston Herald Radio, “The Rundown.” You can listen to The Rundown 2 to 4 p.m. weekdays on Boston Herald Radio.
There is no easy way for me to start so let me introduce myself and lay out the purpose of this page, which I hope will give you and I a reason to build at least a small connection of some sort.
My name is Zuri Berry and I am the deputy managing editor for news and multimedia at the Boston Herald. I am also the host of “The Rundown” on Boston Herald Radio. Those are my titles, but I am so much more.
I grew up in San Francisco and went to public schools. My first job was at an urban farm outside of the Alemany Projects. I played baseball, basketball and football in school. I went to a community college and ventured up to Northern California for my bachelor’s at Chico State. I spent four and a half years in rural California getting my journalism degree and working at a local newspaper as a sports writer and online community manager.
I came to Boston almost 10 years ago to be a digital sports reporter because that’s all I had ever wanted to be. I figured I’d spend a few years here covering the Patriots and then somehow make my way back to San Francisco to cover the 49ers. It was a simple plan.
But then I found my wife here in Boston and now I’m a father with a second child on the way. Somewhere along the way, I got an itch to get back into the news part of the industry. I had covered sports for 10 years before I quit to work on the news side in California. I’ve also been a video producer and I’ve worked in TV as a digital editor. Now I’ve been an editor at the Herald for two years.
I’ve had all of these tremendous experiences that have shaped how I view the news, how important I see fairness is to the process and how pivotal transparency is to news gathering. Maybe it’s my sports background, where everybody has access to the box score and TV, but I am of the belief that people should know how journalists do their work and that the hallmark of good analysis — not punditry — is that it is of sound logic based on history, facts, data and accessible knowledge. If everyone knows how I came to a conclusion, how can they chide my reporting or denounce my analysis as fake? But more than that, I am of the belief that the media should always work to champion people over organizations and hold those who want to wield power over others accountable for their actions.
I have seen over time a concerted effort to conduct the people’s business behind closed doors, spin away corruption and ineptitude, a loss of civility in public discourse and a newfound effort to revitalize propaganda. I am against it — all of it. But I wage this journalistic battle armed with nothing but these values, a healthy dose of skepticism and the perspective of informed individuals to help me along the way. That includes you.
Now I have this new opportunity to analyze the news on Boston Herald Radio. It’s not something I ever expected I would be doing, hosting a radio show, and it’s not something I sought out. But it’s something I am prepared to do and I want smart people on my side pointing me in the right direction, helping me combat the wrongs they see in the media, and keeping me on a path that embodies the values I’ve laid out above.
I’m going to try to be as as informative as possible here. Whether it’s about the news in Massachusetts or elsewhere, my only goal is that this page is helpful to you as you wade your way through your busy day and that you know where I’m coming from when you get a link from me or hear an interview I conduct.
As an editor, I like to think that I want to cover the issues that matter to my readers and listeners the most. But I have particular fondness for exploring issues related to inequality, health care, education, and technology. If you have any ideas of issues you think I should cover on the show or in the Herald, you can leave a comment below or message me on this page.
You can always expect me to be open, honest and accessible.
Thanks for reading this and hopefully I will be much more brief in the future.
I’m blessed to say our family has welcomed a new addition, Landon, who was born 8 pounds and 8 ounces and is already giving his father anxiety. My family and friends have known for some time that Landon was on the way, but I wanted to take a moment here to remark upon his existence and what it has meant for my family.
Landon is my second child and he is a cuddly little guy. We did not know if we were going to have a boy. Claudia, my wife, wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise. And just like his brother, Landon arrived with a head full of hair, taking what little I had left with him. (I’ve made this “joke” too many times now. I’ll call it my first dad joke, because it started with Jalil.)
Landon means of the long hill. It’s an old English surname. When I think of the long hill, I think of San Francisco and it’s many hills, like the one at my grandmother’s (his great grandmother!) house. His middle name, which I’ll omit here for the sake of privacy, means “who is like God.” It’s an acknowledgement of our faith.
We have needed our faith over the past couple of weeks. When Landon was born, he came full term and at a good weight. All signs pointed to an excellent delivery and a healthy baby boy. Over the first two days, Claudia and I bonded with him at the hospital as she recovered and he went through his newborn tests for things like Jaundice and hearing. It was over the course of these initial days that it became clear that Landon was not breathing well. His oxygen level had tested low and the doctors were concerned he wasn’t taking the time to breath while he was eating and crying. We were told, because of this breathing problem and no signs of a physical issue, he would need to be monitored for at least three days. After being reassured it was a behavioral and “maturity” issue, we told ourselves to be patient and not worry.
The thing is, as I later learned, when it comes to monitoring the oxygen level of babies, any dip below the ideal threshold triggers a new monitoring period. So before the three days were up, Landon’s oxygen level had experienced another dip. And then another. And then another. He would spend the remaining week in the nursery monitored by a cadre of nurses who were watching for any spells. We were all waiting for a light bulb to click, for Landon to learn to pause and take in air while feeding and crying. And we began to worry, or at least I did. I could hear him struggling to breath. Every snort and every sniffle sounded strange to me, even though every baby makes the same noises. The breathing problem was getting to me.
After some time in the nursery, the doctors decided to put him on oxygen to help open up his lungs and spur along his own natural breathing. The idea was give him some time with oxygen and then cycle him off as he instinctually figured it out. And while I believe my boy is one of the cutest babies on the planet, seeing him with oxygen was jarring.
I should note that my wife is a nurse. She fully understood the implications of all of the decisions the doctors were making and was completely comfortable with it. But me, being a softy of a father and a journalist, was the one shaken by the visual spectacle of blinking monitors and wires attached to my boy. We spent a total of three days in the hospital after Jalil was born and I was starting to reckon with how abnormal this situation was becoming. My wife suggested I go back to work so I could put my focus elsewhere, which I did.
And I waited. I waited almost two weeks from the day Landon was born until the day I was able to take him home. Just as the doctors had said (with Claudia backing them up), Landon just needed time to figure it out. He was cycled off the added oxygen and went three straight days with no spells. We took him home last night.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in these last two weeks, work is a needed distraction. I’ve also learned how much of a calming influence Claudia is on me. I’m couldn’t be more thankful for her.
I told Claudia that we’re going to hold this over Landon’s head. He came into this world giving his father anxiety and there’s no reason that I won’t chide him about it when he’s older. But I couldn’t be more grateful that he is here now and that he is healthy. So I’ll give him a pass for at least a couple of years. Maybe.
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.
I’m in Baltimore this morning getting prepared for the National Association of Black Journalist’s Region 1 conference here, “One Year After Freddie Gray: Navigating Social Justice in Journalism.”
There has been an incredible effort by NABJ Region 1 director Johann Calhoun and conference chair Nicki Mayo to put on a fantastic program. And the conference team has put out all the stops for folks coming to town. There’s a reception tonight at Nancy by SNAC. The town hall tomorrow is packed with civic leaders like Baltimore Police Chief Kevin Davis, Baltimore NAACP chapter president Tessa Hill Aston and activist DeRay Mckesson. And we have great programs for everyone to enjoy, including both social media and Google tools workshops that’ll certainly offer actionable skills in addition to our great panels.
All of this, of course, comes one year after the death of Freddie Gray and the turmoil in Baltimore following massive protests and civil unrest. Charm City has a new presumptive mayor in Catherine Pugh and there has been much ado about reconciliation in the community. That’s what we’re hoping to explore and the role journalists play when tragic events like this occur.
For journalists in Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Virginia, there’s still time to register and get here for Saturday’s full slate and cover this story. Find out more here: nabjbmore16.com.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
On Monday, I will be debuting as co-host of a new show on Boston Herald Radio called “NewsFeed.”
Have you ever wanted to know how a newspaper approaches its newsgathering process? How the front page of a newspaper comes together? What decisions go into playing up certain stories over others? That’s part of the conversation we will have on “NewsFeed,” but through the lense of the Boston Herald. Joe Dwinell and I will be attempting to push the conversation forward on the news of the day while keeping this in mind.
It’s my hope that both new and faithful readers of the Herald as well as listeners of Herald Radio will get an inside look at how we operate and an opportunity to engage with us in a more direct way.
We’ll be broadcasting “NewsFeed” 1-2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Listeners can call in at 617-619-6400. Or text us at 617-286-5633.
For those unaccustomed to how I get down, I expect this to be an interactive experience. So whether you call us or text us, or just hit me up on Twitter, we’ll be as responsive as possible.