SMELSER E&C's MISSION
To strengthen news organizations by supporting individual journalists through coaching, training, and editing;
To empower individual journalists by helping their organizations become more effective, efficient, ethical, communicative, and humane, and by giving individuals a voice within their organizations;
To advocate courageously for journalism that upholds the highest ethical and quality standards, in service of creating and nurturing an informed and enlightened society.
SMELSER E&C's VALUES
Humane work culture is a top priority.
I believe journalists (and all workers) are better at their jobs when they are neither married to nor handcuffed to their work. I fundamentally reject the idea that dedication to the work requires subservience to it. I encourage clear and equitable expectations for work, as well as boundaries between work and non-work. I advocate for adequate staffing for existing and future goals and initiatives. I recommend systems and efficiencies that ensure service to the audience without unreasonable expectations of staff.
Professional journalism matters.
There is a difference between a trained professional journalist and a content creator. A piece of professional journalism may require more and/or different resources than another type of content created for the same medium. I advocate for the importance and value of professional journalists and for the resources necessary for them to carry out their work.
Mission and ethics are paramount.
The primary mission of an organization’s journalism and fact-based programming is to provide its current and potential audience with accurate and independent news, information, context, and analysis. While this mission must coexist with other organizational objectives, this mission supersedes goals of maximizing audience, maximizing revenue and funding, advancing an agenda, or satisfying station or organizational leaders or stakeholders. I advocate for policies and systems that enshrine this principle, while also striking an ethical balance with the realities of sustainability needs.
Start with the basics, even if they’re not sexy.
Highly publicized conversations about Big Issues, New Initiatives, and Emerging Trends are important; but for many people who go to work in newsrooms every day, those conversations feel like luxuries. Before journalists can tackle the big stuff, they need practical systems and strategies for managing the small stuff - the daily news cycle, constant deadlines, ensuring a robust editorial process, juggling multiple platforms. I specialize in helping newsroom leaders and staff with these critical but often overlooked building blocks.
Strategy is critical. Tough decisions are empowering.
No organization can do it all, no matter its size. No newsroom can cover every angle of every story, explore every possible enterprise opportunity, pursue every worthy investigation. Any newsroom that thinks otherwise is deluding itself and diluting its own effectiveness. I aim to help newsrooms make realistic goals for what they will prioritize now, deliberate decisions about what they will not prioritize now, and roadmaps for realizing their larger visions in the future.
Everyone deserves a voice. Everyone holds a piece of the puzzle.
There are as many valuable perspectives on an organization’s strengths and weaknesses as there are people who work in an organization. It is often the people closest to the work itself who feel the least free to share those perspectives candidly. I aim to hear all perspectives and provide a safe bridge across the many communication gaps that exist within organizations.
My news staff seemed re-energized after their all-day sessions with Judith. There was a sense of excitement that I had not seen in a very long time. Judith provided ideas that we had not considered, and which seemed imminently doable. Since that time we’ve incorporated many of her suggestions, and they have helped to make our news product much stronger overall.
Stephen Williams, General Manager, WMUK
Working with Judith has been the best professional development opportunity I’ve experienced in my 17 years of working in public radio. I can’t recommend her highly enough.
Kevin Willis, News Director, WKU Public Radio